Category Articles

Coconut Oil… So, Now It’s Bad?!?!?

By Serene Allison & Pearl Barrett

We all just got told to steer clear of coconut oil! This was the advice in a recent report by the American Heart Association. Did you notice the media had an absolute hay day with headlines? “Coconut oil is bad and has always been bad,” was the sensational click bait of the day. We had to respond to this smear campaign.

Actually we’re not too surprised, this is merely history repeating itself. About thirty years ago a brutal and long standing attack against coconut oil was waged as the soybean oil industry wrestled for domination. This battle had its own name… “The War of Oils.” Coconut oil was labeled “the oil from hell.” Newspapers and TV headlines slammed it repeatedly and warned it would lead to heart attack and early death. It was described by health gurus as one of the most evil and dangerous foods you could consume. Now here we are watching it all happen again in living color. So take a seat and hold on for the ride.

(Sorry in advance for the length of this post but we have to be thorough and we already shortened this by a long shot so you don’t nod off. Be thankful for that and read to the end… wink (okay… save and read for later then).

NOTHING NEW

First it is important to realize that this update by the American Heart Association did not come because of any new alarming data on coconut oil, they simply reviewed the existing data, and once again reiterated their claim that saturated fats are “bad.” Coconut oil is highly saturated, even more so than butter and beef fat so it must be the “baddest of the bad.” … well that is what the media got from the report anyway. The lead author on the report said he has no idea why people think coconut oil is healthy. “It’s almost 100% fat.” he stated.

We think that statement should give you a fair clue as to where this mindset is coming from. The “fat is bad” mantra is surprisingly still entrenched in the medical community and despite tens of thousands of studies on the importance and benefits of fats (1500 studies on positive benefits of coconut oil alone… “no idea”… really?) this dogma continues to be pushed down our throats as though it is fact. Essentially the American Heart Association is just buckling down and sticking to their guns… if we consume fats they should be limited and only be in the unsaturated form, their darling still being canola oil.

It has never been the Trim Healthy Mama way to attack other diets or health associations. We THM-ers keep our heads down and simply encourage our way of eating then let the positive results speak for themselves. But in light of this new media campaign to unfairly smear coconut oil, we think it is time to shed some light on what is really going on here.

OUT-OF-DATE THINKING

This whole anti-saturated fat movement started being widely promoted in the seventies and eighties. That is when we were told insane stuff such as butter equals bad and margarine equals good. Since that time saturated fat intakes have dropped substantially yet bellies have gotten bigger and health has declined… kind of makes you go… hmmm. Now thankfully, most people have come to realize that margarine is far from good, it is actually toxic to the human body so most health advisers have given up promoting it. Strangely though, the promotion of canola oil (and other vegetable oils such as soybean and corn oil) by the American Heart Association continues in full strength. Why do they keep forcing this doctrine? Why is canola oil still their golden child when it has clearly shown to have serious health implications?

Okay… part of the “why’s” are obvious if you buy into their fat theories. Coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat compared to canola oil which is just seven per cent saturated fat. They also cite certain studies as to why canola oil is heart healthy, but if there is one thing we have learned through our years of trying to find any sort of common sense in the diet industry, people find studies to back up anything they want to say. We hate to even come to this awful conclusion… but could another darker reason possibly be due in part to the fact that the Canola oil industry has been an ongoing financial donor to the AHA and actually funded their massive “Face the Fats” campaign? No… we are not making this stuff up, the following is a quote directly from the canola oil industry itself, very happy with themselves at the rising demand for their product due to partnering with the AHA… “Alignment with heart-health was reinforced through sponsorship of the American Heart Association’s Face the Fats PSA campaign, which generated 237 million impressions.”

Let’s be very clear… the studies the American Heart Association cite for last week’s announcement don’t link eating more coconut oil to heart disease. One study cited did link it to a rise in LDL cholesterol in rats. However if you dig further into the research on coconut oil and cholesterol it actually shows that it raises HDL cholesterol (considered “good”) more than LDL, and that ratio is considered a better heart health marker. There are multiple studies that reveal this including a study published in the June 2011 issue of “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition” on humans, not rats. The researchers concluded coconut oil consumption is associated with higher HDL or “good” cholesterol, but neither raises nor lowers LDL cholesterol. Additional research published in “Clinical Biochemistry” in September 2004 suggests that coconut oil may protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, reducing its tendency to accumulate on artery walls.

CHOLESTEROL BLAME GAME

And let’s also be very clear about this… LDL cholesterol as a “heart health baddie” really is an old fashioned view of it. For argument’s sake, let’s say their rat study does somehow cross over to humans and someone finds themselves with slightly higher LDL levels after heartily digging into coconut oil. Cutting edge heart doctors now realize it is far less about amounts of LDL as it is about particle size of cholesterol. Your body needs cholesterol for almost every bodily process. A large percentage of your brain is actually made from cholesterol. But size matters. Small dense cholesterol particles can squeeze between the cells of your arteries and get stuck. Once they’re stuck they become “plaque”, they oxidize, turn rancid and cause inflammation.

So, you don’t want small LDL molecules, you want larger, fluffier, healthier ones… well guess what? Research (including a study cited in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(5), 828-836 demonstrates that eating saturated fats increase the size of your small LDL molecules and thus reduces your overall risk of a cardiac event. It is a diet high in refined sugars and starches that contributes to smaller, more dangerous cholesterol particle size and raises triglycerides (a marker that measures circulating fat in your bloodstream).

More and more doctors (who are willing to be open minded and not entrenched in old fashioned dogma) are now realizing inflammation markers in the body are much more indicative of heart attack risk than mere cholesterol levels. A recent study published in Ind J Clin Biochem supports this concept. Blood samples were drawn from 100 people who had a heart attack. Blood samples were also drawn from 100 people who had not had a heart attack. Each sample was tested for levels of LDL cholesterol as well as a marker for inflammation known as HS-CRP. The results showed that there was no significant difference in LDL levels between the heart attack group and the non-heart attack group. They were about the same. There was however a significant difference in HS-CRP levels. Those who had a heart attack had about six times higher levels of this inflammation marker than those who did not.

How do we decrease inflammation in the body? As a Trim Healthy Mama, you know that beating the sugar monster does a fabulous job of this. Making out that coconut oil is the heart risk meanie… that it is basically a heart attack in a jar waiting to happen doesn’t make any sense at all in light of recent knowledge about inflammation. Coconut oil is an undisputed inflammation fighter for Pete’s sake!

DISTURBING BEGINNINGS

Coconut oil comes from coconuts, plain and simple. Why are we saying something so obvious and ridiculous when of course you know that? Well, in contrast, let’s look at the chief oil that the American heart association promotes. Canola oil is a made up name. Canola oil doesn’t come from a God created seed or nut. There is no such thing found in nature. Canola oil comes from the hybridization of the rape seed. The rape seed is a plant seed which is why it’s monounsaturated (the AHA very much likes monounsaturated oils) but it had to be modified as it is high in a toxin called erucic acid which is lethal to the human heart. Not fit for consumption but great for oiling machines.

In the late 1970’s, when The War of Oils began and saturated fats started to be shunned, monounsaturated fats like olive oil began to be touted as healthier oils. A problem developed. There was not enough olive oil for world demand, not to mention that it was too expensive for producing cheap processed foods. Until that time most packaged foods were using palm or coconut oils but the new mantra “saturated fats are bad” was now in full force. The food industry needed a new cheap oil. Soybean oil did succeed in replacing much of the coconut and palm oils in processed foods but it didn’t seem quite “heart healthy” enough to push as an olive oil alternative for home use.

Researchers came to the rescue by engineering a new plant from the rapeseed which was lower in erucic acid. They reduced this acid to less than 2 % (there is still a lot of debate about how harmful it is in these smaller amounts but the powers that be let it slide) and canola oil was born. They didn’t want to call it Rape Oil, bad for business. So since it came from Canada and “ola” means oil… Canola oil stuck. Canola oil is highly refined and often partially hydrogenated to increase its stability and shelf life but it somehow became the new darling of the health industry. The American Heart Association encouraged all of us to use it in place of natural, God given saturated fats like butter and coconut oil. In 2006, the FDA allowed canola oil and products containing canola oil to be labeled with heart health claims. Labels could say that limited evidence suggests that eating 19 grams (about 1.5 tablespoons) of canola oil daily in place of saturated fat may reduce the risk of heart disease as long as you don’t increase your total caloric intake.

CLOSER EXAMINATION… NOT SO PRETTY

Let’s examine this so called heart healthy oil more closely. Canola oil is processed at high heats. It is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, (the American Heart Association likes this) but these delicate omega 3 fatty acids oxidize and turn rancid and foul smelling very quickly from the high heats of processing. How do manufacturers get around this? They deodorize it, bleach it and degum it. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega 3 acids so bye bye to those. Sadly the American Heart Association is not sharing to the public that oxidized oils cause damage to your cells and tissues. Oxidation is not only a major contributor to most degenerative diseases, it also causes inflammation. You know now that it is excess inflammation, (not necessarily elevated cholesterol levels) that creates the biggest risk for heart event problems. Excess inflammation in the body can also give rise to anything from arthritis to more serious diseases such as Parkinson’s, bipolar moods, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

What else do we know about Canola oil? Here’s a sobering fact. 90% of it is genetically modified. You can go on the internet and see that Monsanto is still one of the chief sponsors for the growers of canola oil. They don’t even try to hide it! For real, go look at their logo proudly displayed as a sponsor. In 1995 Monsanto created a genetically modified version of canola oil and this is the version that is chiefly used to this day.

There have been no long-term, viable studies done on GMO canola oil but there are reports that it has caused many kidney, liver and neurological health issues. Research at the Nutrition and Toxicology Research of Ottawa discovered that rats bred to have high blood pressure and susceptibility to stroke died earlier when fed Canola oil than rats fed a diet without canola oil. Another study published in 2000 in “Toxicology Letters” looked at the effect of Canola oil on blood clotting time in stroke prone animals. The study determined that there was a “canola oil-induced shortening of blood coagulation time and increased fragility in red blood cell membranes which may promote the concurrence of strokes… ”

In stark contrast, coconut oil has been a traditional food in tropical climates for thousands of years. Studies done on native diets high in coconut oil consumption show that these populations are in general good health and do not suffer nearly as much from the modern diseases of western nations where coconut oil use is far less. Asian and Pacific populations both use coconut oil not only in food but also in their traditional medical practices. Praised for its many healing properties, Coconut Oil is believed to be the cure of all illnesses in the Pacific Islands. It is so highly valued they refer to the coconut palm as “The Tree of Life.” The populations of two South Pacific islands were examined over a period of time starting in the 1960’s. Coconuts were a staple in the diets, with up to 60% of their caloric intake coming from the saturated fat of coconut. That’s a heck of a lot! The study found very lean and healthy people who were relatively free from modern diseases. Their conclusion stated: “Vascular disease is uncommon in both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect in these populations.”

A SHORT LIST OF COCONUT OIL BENEFITS

We don’t have enough room now to go into the documented benefits of coconut oil on your health. As we mentioned earlier, there are literally thousands of studies you can dig into. But to hit a few highlights… it is anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-weight gain. Yes… you heard us right… it trims you! It raises the thermogenic temperature of your body and this ignites your fat burning potential. If you’re skeptical about this try this little experiment. Next time you’re cold, go swallow a teaspoon or two of coconut oil. Notice how your body will start to warm up. It literally revs a sluggish thyroid which helps you burn fat!

We’ll let you go do your own research about all its other benefits but we want to leave you with this thought to ponder. Mother’s milk and coconut oil have eye opening similarities. If coconut oil really is the villain it is being made out to be why would God make it so similar to human breast milk? Both human milk and coconut oil have more saturated fat than the monounsaturated oils that the heart association promotes. Breast milk relies on these saturated fats to protect infants from pathogens and infections and other harmful organisms and these are the same middle chain fatty acids which make coconut oil so healing and protective. Out of the three middle chain fatty acids, lauric acid is highest both in breast milk and coconut oil alike… they match! Without these saturated lauric acids your baby would probably not survive long. Almost all formula companies add middle chain, saturated fatty acids to their mixes to ensure a baby is properly nourished. God created middle chain fatty acids, he knows their incredible healing power and he made sure that both Mother’s milk and coconut oil contain plentiful amounts in almost identical proportions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Last week when this report came out and blasted the internet and the airwaves, it didn’t cause us to skip a beat or have an iota of doubt about the coconut oil in our cupboards. We have had too many years of saturating ourselves with this saturated fat and it continues to bless our lives, our health and our waistlines. In fact when we heard about the attack on coconut oil we called each other on the phone and Serene mentioned that instead of putting just 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in her smoothie like she usually does, she added another for good measure and put another one in her home made baby food. Take that you powers that be!

More and more people are learning of the benefits of coconut oil and you can bet it is scaring the vegetable oil industry. They tried last time around and succeeded in causing the world to shun coconut oil for a while but you can’t keep a good thing down. The truth always shines through. Coconut oil might get hammered but it won’t be defeated. We are all armed with too much information now. Perhaps thirty years ago all the scary headlines were believed. Now… we doubt they’ll have the same luck. Coconut oil is going to stay in our grocery carts and thanks but no thanks to the fake, fandangled, gmo, hydrogenated cocktail of trans-fat, bleached sludge canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil being pushed on us. We’ll stick to the good stuff. Now… off to make some Skinny Chocolate!

Love,
Serene and Pearl

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benefits of mct oil

Medium Chain Triglycerides

By Serene Allison

MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. These are the fatty acids that are carefully extracted from coconut or palm oils. Virgin coconut oil is roughly 65% MCTs, but the pharmaceutical grade MCT oil is 100%. It is the MCTs that have made coconut oil so famous. Pure MCT oil is like coconut oil on steroids.

It is the LOWEST CALORIE fat of all oils. MCT burns three times more calories, for six hours after a meal, than other fats. It gets metabolized more like a carbohydrate, without involving insulin. It provides INSTANT, yet SUSTAINED ENERGY, especially to the brain. It converts into energy faster than glucose, but with no sugar rush and subsequent lull. It counteracts the decreased energy production that results from aging. It is very difficult for MCTs to be stored as fat because of the way they accelerate the metabolism and are so quickly and efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles. It has a blood glucose lowering effect and is an aid to diabetics, or those in the category of having a tendency for pre-diabetes (which includes most of us over 35). In a study involving a group of overweight women, researchers noted that insulin profiles improved when MCTs comprised 24% of total consumed calories. (Scalfi L, Coltorti A, Contaldo F. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides. Amj clin Nutr 1991 ‘May;53(5):1130-3)

MCT oil is eight times more effective at creating a thermogenic (producing heat through metabolic stimulation) rise in the body than coconut oil itself. It does not have a coconut oil flavor, so it is the perfect creamer ingredient. The combination of MCT oil plus Whey or collagen and Gluccie is a powerful weight-controlling tool. It fires the metabolism, nourishes, satiates, energizes, and all the while provides you with healthy fiber that goes down creamy, but makes you feel fuller and controls your blood sugar. Separately, these ingredients are brilliant, but together they work synergistically to achieve something even greater. Even if they provided nothing other than a delicious creamer, that wasn’t bad for us, then that would be enough. The fantastic news is now instead of guilt, for our creamer, we can exchange it with something that carries a crazy, long list of amazing benefits.

I wish I had time to tell you just how AMAZING MCT oil is for your health. Pearl and I still include lots of coconut oil in our diets, but have added this oil into our Trim Healthy Mama arsenal. Squeezing some of its benefits into a little list feels inadequate and lame. I need a whole chapter of a book… No, I need a whole book to share my enthusiasm about this medicinal superfood. I am long-winded, naturally, and it goes against my grain to not give it justice.

  • MCTs suppress appetite and help to decrease body fat while increasing lean muscle mass. After our mid-thirties, we lose muscle mass every year and replace it with adipose (fat) tissue. MCT and exercise can powerfully reverse this sign of aging. As women, we do not want to strip our healthy feminine fat pads in the same way as rigorous body builders do, who use this oil, but we can use it to shed any unwanted, unhealthy fluff.
  • MCTs act as powerful antioxidants and reduce tissue requirements for vitamin E.
  • MCTs optimize the production of thyroid hormones.
  • MCTs help prevent atherosclerosis, as they have an anti-coagulation effect and have a positive effect on autoimmune reactions.
  • MCTs accelerate healing. They fight catabolism (the breakdown of proteins.) They also help absorption of amino acids (protein).
  • They are used for AIDS patients and have been found helpful for those with digestive issues, IBS, Crohn’s disease, Cystic Fibrosis, fungal infections, and Celiac disease.

If all of the above got you excited, then hold onto your hat, Mama! (I’m actually wearing a beanie right now because I just came in from a brisk walk) I ain’t done yet…

The latest rave and research dedicated to MCTs are revolved around its ability to produce ketones (preferred fuel for the brain) as a by-product of its digestion. MCT oil can produce ketones to provide fuel for your brain, without having to stick to an extreme ketogenic diet. These ketones repair, renew, and revive the brain. MCT oil has shown to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s. Did you know the FDA has recently approved a drug used for treating Alzheimer’s disease that consists solely of MCTs?

The Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle is super healthy for the brain, as it is centered on controlling and limiting blood sugar spikes. Even small, but regular sugar spikes, make your brain more vulnerable to becoming resistant to insulin. When this happens, your brain cannot receive nourishment from glucose anymore and your brain cells start dying, unless you start feeding them ketones. The standard, Western diet promotes brain aging, damage, and dullness. Controlling your blood sugar is more about your brain than even your weight.

Alzheimer’s is growing at a rampant rate. A Trim Healthy Mama approach to eating, plus MCT supplementation, is a double-edged sword against brain deterioration. In one study, Alzheimer’s patients consumed a beverage containing MCTs or a beverage without MCTs. Those who drank the beverage with the MCTs scored significantly better on cognitive tests. This study showed cognitive improvement even after a single dose… I’m in!

I mix up my children’s names far too often…eeek! (Reger, M.A., et al. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory impaired adults Neurobiol aging 2004;25:311-314).

Last piece of interesting information… While studying ketones and brain growth and repair, I stumbled across a site that talked about how the brains of breastfed babies are fueled by ketones. This is hard to fathom – considering all the milk sugar that human breast milk contains. However, the studies revealed the energy needed by the baby for growth was so high that the sugar was zapped up and burned. Mother’s milk is naturally very rich in MCTs and produces ketones to be used for this fastest season of brain growth, in a human being. FASCINATING! I want my brain back with MCT ketones.

Please do not think that being fueled with MCT furnishing ketones puts you in the same boat as the dangerous diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Nutritional ketosis or keto-adaption is something very different than this life-threatening condition. Trim Healthy Mama, with its consistent juggling of (S) and (E) meals, can involve MCT supplementation safely.

Trim Healthy Mama is not extreme, like a ketogenic diet, and plasma ketones are kept in gentle margins. I could keep going, but I am smart enough to know that my big sis, Pearl, will give me her lecture about torturing you with long articles.

I have to sign off now and make my afternoon Trimmaccino Light. I can’t decide between the Ginger Chai Cream or Chocolate Jaffa, mmmmm… Whichever one I have, I know it will be ever so creamilicious and may turn me into a Trim Healthy Genius Mama. I actually might try a double MCT whammy and have a Trimmaccino Rich with a square of Skinny Chocolate, on the side.

Love,

Serene

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collagen 101: the merits and the myths

All you ever wanted to know about collagen and then more!

(By a purist with an OCD bent for unearthing the grandeur in simple food.)

A Note from Serene:
“As we progress in this article, I may refer to collagen and gelatin similarly as they both are inherently the same thing and possess a similar amino acid profile. Collagen peptides are simply amino acids of gelatin broken down into smaller molecules through a natural process. The main difference between the two is that collagen is more therapeutic and they also act a little differently in the kitchen. Gelatin gels when cooled after being mixed with liquids (think jiggly jello) while collagen does not. Some of the studies cited here may use the simple term “collagen” or use other names for it like “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides”.  These are all different names for the same thing.”

A WORD OF CAUTION WITH A VERY BRIGHT RED FLASHING LIGHT

This AIN’T a little… “let’s just hit the highlights” article. If you are entirely uninterested in uncovering an exciting wonder list of collagen’s benefits with me or a scientifically breaking down its magnificent molecules, then please avoid suffering through the TRAUMA of my long windedness and skip to the last few paragraphs of this piece. Go to “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO.” There you will find important safety information and how to use it optimally for health and weight loss.

WE LOVE THIS STUFF!

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about collagen lately. Pearl and I can’t stop talking about it and we keep on whipping up delicious recipes starring them here at Trim Healthy Mama headquarters. Supplementing collagen in our own daily meal and snack times has made a huge difference not only in the balance of our protein profiles, but also in the way we look and feel. Not to mention how fast our hair grows! Collagen has allowed us to reap the healing power of old fashioned bone broth even if we can’t regularly find the time to boil up a pot of this liquid gold. We’re no longer just consuming protein from meat muscle sources and dairy, but we’re now able to integrate missing amino acids that generations past and other cultures enjoy with great benefit.

Everything from our digestion, to our skin, nails, and hair, have been supported and fortified by collagen. Our immune systems have become noticeably stronger, and we even sleep better. We couldn’t keep this easy health secret to ourselves, so we blabbed it to you in our new Trim Healthy Mama Plan and Cookbook, and you caught the collagen bug too. Daily we hear from our readers with glowing testimonies about how collagen has helped their skin, their hair, their joint pain, their digestion issues… the list goes on and on. But we’ve also had many questions and inquiries streaming in for more info about this wonder food than we had room to originally share in our book so I thought I would take the time to enlighten you more. I want to highlight many more of its talents, teach you how to use it effectively and lay to rest some worries that naturally come with adding a new supplement into your diet.
OUR OWN STORIES

I know. I know.  We sell the stuff… all of our enthusiasm about collagen probably sounds so “salesy” and trite. Ugghh… We hate to be the types that are always peddling their wares… but we only sell Integral Collagen now because of what it did for us before!  We jumped on the collagen wagon a couple of years before we began to carry it as part of our Trim Healthy product line.  Back then we bought it from other companies (always trying to find grass-fed sources) as often as we could afford it. We’re just authentically excited about our personal and family experiences with collagen. Bringing you a clean, pasture raised source is just icing on the cake.

Before I get all scientific, let me share with you some of these personal stories and get this “collagen paper party” started out the right way… from the home first, and then to the research papers and science lab last.

OUR MOMMY

Our Mom started collagen supplementation to help an injured shoulder (she took a bad fall about a decade ago and her shoulder never completely healed). Our Mother is a world-traveling, extremely busy 75 year old who is constantly burning the candle at both ends with a full-time ministry. She lives sacrificially for others and always puts herself last. Due to this, she often battled a weakened immune system. During her heavy overseas travel season she almost always got hit with awful colds and flus which took far too long to recover from.

SURPRISED BY HER COLLAGEN TEA

We gave our Mom a nice stash of collagen and insisted she start to use it for the constant pain in her shoulder… “Just stir it into your tea, Mom” (she’s not much of a coffee drinker).  Mom was surprised when she started noticing an extra level of overall well-being. That year she didn’t miss a beat when traveling from country to country, and experienced very little jet lag. Her usual horrible colds and flus never reared their debilitating heads, and she began to wonder what she had done differently to warrant this improved health. She was actually not able to eat as healthfully as she would at home with the impracticality of traveling, but she still felt great! Then she remembered the collagen that she had been stirring into her tea at airports and practically everywhere she went. It finally dawned on her that this was the only difference between this particular season and all the other sick ones. Mom was taking it for different reasons, but a major immune system boost occurred as a secret side effect. The amino acid Glycine, so abundant in collagen, is necessary for the liver to properly remove toxins from our systems. Our livers have to put up with a huge onslaught from the myriad of greebly toxins in our modern world, and often cannot manufacture enough of their own glycine and other anti-inflammatory proteins (found in collagen) to keep up with this huge trash removal job. Immune building is a fundamental task that supplemental collagen does for your body.

GOING… GOING… GONE

By 25 years of age, collagen levels decrease in the body at a rate of 1.5% a year. After the age of 30, our collagen production slows down further and we begin to lose 2% of our collagen stores every year. By the age of 40, we are 15% in the red! And the debt keeps growing from here. At 40, collagen is depleted much faster than it can be manufactured by the body. And by age 60, over half of our body’s collagen stores are gone… gone… gone.

Our Mom’s immune system at 75 was in a desperate need of the treasures found in collagen. Collagen levels plummet drastically, especially after menopause, as a lack of estrogen compounds the issue. Also, as testosterone declines in older men, so too does their collagen levels plummet, as testosterone supports collagen production.

OUR DAD SLAMS IT DOWN THE HATCH

Let’s just say our Mommy is hooked on collagen now and seldom gets sick. She is literally a powerhouse of energy, and looks younger now than a few years back. We are amazed at what she accomplishes at her age, and how strong she is. And you bet she has our Dad taking his daily dose too! He has also remarked on a much noticeably stronger immune system. He now tells almost everybody he meets about this stuff that basically alleviated the cold and flu season for him too. He’s not one for fancy-dandy recipes, so he just mixes it up straight with a shot of water and slams it down the hatch. He doesn’t take it for its yummy recipe creation abilities like we do. He just knows it is anti-inflammatory, that it fights free radical and mitochondrial damage, and helps prevent diabetes.

SCIENCE CONFIRMS OUR EXCITEMENT

Science backs up our Mom’s accidental findings. Here is just one of the many studies on the positive immune support of collagen. In 2015 Japanese researchers published a study on the effects of collagen ingestion and human immunity. The study was a placebo, controlled, double and blind trial, and measured the SIV (Scoring of Immunological Vigor) and other immunological, biochemical, physical, and subjective symptom parameters. They tested Japanese men and women between the ages of 30 and 59 with low SIV markers and complaints of overall fatigue. The study revealed that through 10 grams of daily collagen supplementation, over an eight week period, there was significant improvement in the comprehensive immunological status of humans. (That would resemble 3/4 scoop of THM Integral Collagen.)  Those participants who took the placebo supplement did not show any immunological improvement.

Our Mom came over to my house for dinner last night and we got onto the subject of me writing this little (“he he”) article on our experiences with collagen. She reminded me of some details I had forgotten, and told me some new ones that she didn’t want me to leave out.

MUM WENT SPLAT ON THE GROUND

Let’s get back to my Mom’s original fall. A decade ago she was walking in the dark, late at night, on a trail through the woods back to her room at a conference where she was speaking. She tripped on a protruding tree root and went splat onto the ground. She broke a bone, and even after much medical help (including seeing a physiotherapist), still suffered with pain and lack of mobility in her shoulder. She just couldn’t find any relief and had learned to “just live with it” over the years. Mom is not the type to complain out loud, but we could all tell it bothered her. Now after a year or so of daily rich collagen use, she says she barely can tell she ever had an injury.

SHE WAS SURE SHE WAS GOING TO PAY!

Last night she told me about two new falls she had recently with the same hard impact on the ground that had previously ruined her shoulder for almost a decade. It is not that our Mom is fragile and loses her balance easily; it is that she does crazy things like race walks through the woods in the dark for the wild fun of it, then topples to the ground over hidden shrubbery. Anyway, she was sure she was going to pay for these latest falls with terrible joint or bone injuries, but after the soreness of a few short days there were no other consequences. She says she is sure that her bones and ligaments must be so much more supple and forgiving from all her collagen sipping. She also has been very faithful lately in making collagen-rich homemade bone stock… yum, yum!

COLLAGEN PEPTIDES ARE SUPER SMARTY PANTS LITTLE DUDES

Collagen is what makes up 90% of organic bone mass, and several studies report very favorable results on bone metabolism by administering hydrolyzed collagen. Just ten grams of collagen peptides (slightly less than a THM scoop of Integral Collagen which is 1½ Tbsp) taken for 4 – 24 weeks, show increased bone mass density, increased bone size, and less brittle bones. Scientists have found that when the metabolites of collagen peptides are present in the extra cellular matrix of bone, osteoblasts (which are the cells responsible for bone formation) are stimulated. The amazing thing is that osteoclasts (yes, with a “c” – not a “b”), which are the cells involved in bone reabsorption and cause a bone to disintegrate are not stimulated. Collagen peptides are super smarty pants little dudes and can differentiate between the goodies and the baddies. Not only that… once they locate the bone builder cells, they help mature and grow them all up “nice like” and support them in their task. Wowzers!! The human body is amazing, isn’t it?! Even a simple study on collagen reveals creation from Intelligent Design.

CONFIRMED OSTEOPOROSIS THERAPY WITH JUST A SCOOP PER DAY

Ten grams daily for long term use is proven in both experimental and clinical studies to act as an osteoporosis therapy (Nomura et al., 2005; Wu et al., 2004). Osteoporosis is a major threat to mature women. By the age of 65, a whopping 19.5% of women find themselves living with pain and reduced joint functioning. Men are not left out of this bone crumbling equation with 8.7% of men, over the age of 65, experiencing osteoporosis symptoms.

BONE IS BUILT ON A SCAFFOLD OF COLLAGEN

Many sufferers of bone loss try and treat this issue by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. This method is not an effective fix because the collagen based protein frames of bones have to be ample enough for them to recalcify. When bones are deficient in collagen, their frame is not strong enough for calcification to occur, so taking a bunch of calcium simply doesn’t work. Clinical work shows that hydrolyzed collagen is so integral to bone health it actually improves osteoporosis, even without a calcium or vitamin D supplement. Bone broth does not aid the bones because it contains calcium, as many erroneously think. Actually, neither bone stock nor collagen obtained from land animal sources are ample sources of calcium.

SUPPLEMENTAL COLLAGEN FOUND IN CARTILAGE 12 HOURS AFTER INGESTION

In its hydrolyzed form (which is the same as found in Trim Healthy Mama’s Integral Collagen), collagen has amazing bioavailability and reaches maximum plasma concentrations 6 hours after being ingested. Fragments of radio-labeled hydrolyzed collagen were found in bone cartilage 12 hours after oral administration in Kinetic studies in animals.(Oesser, 1999).

THE MOST IMPORTANT PROTEIN FOR BONE AND JOINT HEALTH

Hydrolyzed collagen is more important than any other protein for joint and bone health as it contains three times more of the amino acids glycine and proline. It is specifically these two amino acids that are not only responsible for the super strong three dimensional conformation of collagen, but also the ones that support the stability of collagen structures in cartilage. In vitro studies show that adding hydrolyzed collagen to a culture medium of chondrocytes (healthy cartilage cells), significantly provides a dose dependent increase in collagen type ll synthesis.

CONFIRMED RELIEF FOR RHEUMATIC PAIN

Hydrolyzed collagen is quite remarkable in treating rheumatic pain for those suffering from arthritis. It reduces inflammation in the joints. We hear from women all the time who say their joint pain is so much better when using collagen, but these results are not just anecdotal. Many clinical studies (especially in Germany and here in America) report its efficacy in pain reduction, decreased analgesic use, and improved comfort and mobility of the joints.

Our Mom didn’t know any of this science stuff. All she knew and continues to experience, is that her joints and bones feel better now at 75 than when she was sixty something. She used to get little sleep at night due to aching hip bones. Her mother (our grandmother) had debilitating osteoporosis, and we remember her being unable to get out of bed her pain was so intense. Mom thought she was headed for the same future. But this simple dietary addition, easily yummied up into so many delicious treats, seems to have changed her genetic diagnosis.

PEARLIE AND I LOVE OUR COLLAGEN TRIMMIES

Both Pearl and I have also realized collagen’s immune boosting and joint strengthening powers. By drinking our daily delicious coffee and tea based Trimmies containing collagen (found beginning on page 430 of the THM Cookbook), we have resisted many of the common colds and tummy bugs we would normally succumb to in the latest boogie-woogie germy season. We both (a funny genetic thing) use to have clicks in our wrists that would pop in and out when putting weight on our hands, and this weird annoyance appears to have gone for good. Okay, so Pearl is looking over my progress here and tells me she is often too lazy to make a Trimmy. She wants you to know you can just make her “Lazy Collagen Coffee”.

Lazy Collagen Coffee

  • Put half to one scoop THM Integral Collagen in a mug.
  • Add a little hot coffee and stir well with a fork.
  • Fill mug with coffee, stir again then add a Tbsp or two of heavy cream or half and half.
  • Done! Enjoy!

SAYONARA WRINKIES!!!

Pearl is 45 and I am close to 40 now (there, we said it). We’re not trying to look twenty something, but we’ve both been happy to notice softer, and smoother skin, and even think some of our “wrinks” (our pet name for our wrinkles) are starting to disappear. Yippee for Integral Collagen! Don’t want to come across as too vain, but we get excited over this. Our nails are basically bulletproof these days, and our hair needs much more frequent lopping off. We hear from so many Mamas whose hairdressers are asking them what in the world they are doing as they have to come in for so many more haircuts than before they started taking collagen.

Actually, my hair usually takes a downward spiral during the first six months postpartum. but after my most recent baby (biological number 8) my hair has stayed thick and healthy and not done its usual excessive shedding. Adding Integral Collagen to help creamify my favorite Trimmies and smoothies and using it in my Superfood Chews (a delicious candy found on page 382 of the THM Cookbook) was such an easy and delicious way to combat this usually disheartening situation.

POSTPARTUM WONDER FOOD

While we are on the subject of postpartum issues, I can’t forget to tell you about my pregnancy recovery and how unique and wonderful it has been for me this eighth time around. I am usually plagued with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, which is a painful situation resulting from the separation of the symphysis pubis joint in the front part of the pelvic bone structure. Even regular granny-style walking can be severely painful for me in the first few months postpartum and can flare up for a couple of days at a time even many months down the road. I took Integral Collagen faithfully every day of my pregnancy (which was a great pregnancy by the way), and kept it up faithfully, even sipping Beauty Milk, (THM Cookbook, page 440) a collagen-rich recipe in our recipe book throughout my long labor.

BEST “ZIP UP” YET

I sorta feel like an “infomercial fake artist” when I tell you this, but my usual pubic symphysis pain was nonexistent and I felt stronger and more put together from day 1 after this latest birth. As far as zipping up the core and Diastasis (the split between the two halves of the six pack “recti” abdominal muscles) healing, I have more positive raving to share! After eight babies you would think this time around would be my worst “zip up”, but it was my best yet. Of course I followed all our “Workin” principles (these exercise DVD’s will be out soon), during and after the pregnancy, but it was the combination of both protective and restorative exercise, plus Integral Collagen’s supportive nourishment to my ligaments, bones, and skin that made the noticeable difference.  After birth there is definite repair and healing that needs to be done in a woman’s body, and collagen-rich gelatin has been used traditionally for speeding wound healing and reducing excessive bleeding. I am personally convinced that collagen (along with traditional bone broth) is one of the most important supplements that a pregnant and postpartum Mama should take. There is nothing strange in collagen that a pregnant woman needs to be concerned about. Check out the last few paragraphs of this article for safety, but as with all things, balance is key. There is no need to overdo it and forget about your other whole protein sources, but don’t be scared of it either. It was a huge help to me.

A PREGNANCY PEARL

(Not “Pearl” herself but collagen being a pregnant Mama’s treasure.)

For sake of time we haven’t even properly addressed the buoying up of a pregnant Mama’s body that collagen provides. It supports her skin with adequate elasticity as it stretches over her growing little treasure and the curves that will nourish it when finally in arms.  I have read that a cup of bone stock everyday can help prevent stretch marks on a pregnant Mama’s belly. To make this easier and not so “meaty” tasting all the time, she could just have a Healing Trimmy  (THM Cookbook, page 30) or a glass of Beauty Milk (THM Cookbook, page 440), which are both awesome substitutes for bone stock (still a good idea to incorporate bone stock itself too though). Thanks to the relaxing, anti-excitatory amino acids rich in collagen, it calms a tense hormonal “preggieite”, and aids in more restful sleep. I could go on and on but I am starting to rabbit trail from my main point in this particular testimony. Let’s talk some more collagen science for a bit.

ABSOLUTELY INTEGRAL

Collagen is a polypeptide molecule, the largest and most abundant protein in the body. Collagen makes up about 65% of our total protein. Aside from water, collagen is the most necessary structural substance in our bodies. It is absolutely integral and that is why we call our pasture-raised collagen, “Integral Collagen”. It’s in our bricks and in our mortar. Literally!! Our tendons, joints, ligaments, skeletal muscles, bone tissue, blood vessels, blood cells, arteries, intervertebral discs, skin, hair, heart, lungs, liver, prostate, other organs, and even the cornea of our eyes contain collagen. The word “collagen” is derived from the Greek word “kolla”, which literally means glue. Collagen helps keep us glued together and prevents us from falling apart.

BEYOND SKIN DEEP

As I already pointed out, aging slows down our own collagen production, and all of the myriad of body parts and systems that need the support of this wonderful structural glue are affected by the lack of it.  We may not be able to see all of the issues related to the gradual decline of collagen in our bodies that are beyond skin deep, but organs depleted of this building material become weaker and more flimsy, and those like the heart and the prostrate tend to enlarge.  What we can see however, is the gravitational pull and southward plunge of collagen depleted skin and muscles as the years go by.  Skin starts to sag and becomes thinner and less pliable and resilient.

But let’s not get all down and depressed of soul about this. Let’s raise our Healing Trimmies and fight the rigors of aging with a delicious cuppa of collagen-rich creamy wonderfulness!

MORE HYDRATION AND RESILIENCE

Third party clinical studies demonstrate significant skin improvement from daily supplementation. A study performed in Tokyo in 2008 of women ages 40-60 who supplemented 10 grams of Hydrolyzed Collagen daily for two months revealed a dramatic 91% increase in skin hydration and resilience. That’s huge! Another study that same year in Lyon, France, using Deriscan technology showed similar results with an increase in skin smoothness and hydration in woman age 35-55 who ingested that same amount of collagen daily for 12 weeks. Using objective and state of the art technology (including the new Corneometer, the Skin Image Analyzer, and the C&Z Cutometer), the results were 41% less furrowing, less wrinkles with skin showing more hydration and resilience.

DEFY AGING – TRIGGER THE GROWTH OF NEW   COLLAGEN!

Scientific research has begun to reveal just how new collagen is rebuilt in the skin, and also in our ligament and bones, which we will discuss in more detail soon. When supplemental hydrolyzed collagen is digested, it creates metabolites that trigger the synthesis of new collagen by attracting fibroblasts. It is these fibroblasts that are responsible for the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers. They are the most common cells of connective tissue. The peptides in collagen have also been observed to increase the density and diameter of collagen fibrils in skin dermis by their stimulation of fibroblasts. Dermal collagen fibers have better cohesion and strength which defies aging by thickening the skin and allowing it to regain lost suppleness and more resilience and hydration.

BEAUTIFUL WINTER SKIN

Pearl and I are believers in collagen’s ability to reverse skin damage. Not because of reading the results of these sorts of study papers, but by firsthand experience. Winter usually does a number on my skin. Our home is heated by a wood stove and creates a very dry environment that leaves my skin feeling crapey, itchy, and thin. The past couple of winters I have sipped on collagen-rich Trimmies, and if I slacked off in making my own bone stock, I made sure to throw some collagen into all my soups. My skin has been renewed. I did not get that stiff mask-like dryness or the pillowcase line prints into my face that took half a day to finally go away. Many times this last winter I awoke with my face having been smushed into my pillow all night with zigzag marks to prove it, but the art work left within just half an hour or so. I call that progress!

COLLAGEN AND GELATIN PROTECT SKIN FROM ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT

Researchers from Tokyo confirm my experiences and reveal that eating gelatin/collagen-rich foods help maintain a more youthful complexion. A study from the Tokyo University of Agriculture tested the effects of gelatin on skin repeatedly exposed to ultraviolet light. Mice that were exposed to ultraviolet light that did not receive gelatin in their diet had a 53% decrease in the collagen content of their skin. Exposed mice that were fed gelatin/collagen had not only a zero reduction of collagen, but had an average increase of 17%.

VANGE’S STORY

So who are we going to talk about next… hmm… our sister Vange has an awesome testimony of gut healing through drinking loads of her homemade, collagen-rich bone stock and by taking Integral Collagen when she didn’t have access to her stock. She has always been extremely sensitive to many foods and was a projectile vomiter for the first few years of her life. Her sensitivities got to the point where she was in so much pain in her digestive system sometimes that she felt like she was experiencing worse pain than labor.

She tried many different food elimination protocols to try and figure out the offenders, but didn’t find total relief until she started studying the benefits of collagen-rich bone stock. She became the best bone stock maker in town. She’s always boiling up bones and has her freezer stocked with this delicious broth. She also loves taking Integral Collagen in Trimmies for the simple ease of it. She finds that when she keeps on her stocks and collagen supplementation, that her digestion is fantastic. But when she gets busy and has seasons when she can’t keep it up, she feels the pain and agitation revisiting.

COLLAGEN AND BONE BROTH HEAL THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

Collagen-rich broth or supplements like Integral Collagen provide soothing and healing relief to the digestive tract. Rich in the amino acid glycine, they stimulate stomach acid production which improves digestion and helps your body assimilate more nutrients from your food. With all the ant-acids on the market today it might come as a surprise that low stomach acid is a chronic and wide spread issue and can mimic the same symptoms as too much acid. Low hydrochloric acid has a domino affect in the body and effects much more than the gut. Poor digestion and inadequate nutrient absorption is a major trigger in hormonal imbalances. Collagen helps restore a lazy and sluggish digestive system.

REBUILDS THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE STOMACH AND INTESTINES

Our digestive tracts are made up of the same amino acids that are richly provided in collagen. Homemade bone stock or supplemental collagen/gelatin can help repair a leaky gut, an inflamed and agitated digestive lining, and also the infrastructure of our stomach and intestines.

DON’T LEAVE IT BEHIND

Raw foods are hydrophilic in nature, which means they attract water and keep the digestive system hydrated. Cooked foods do not contain this ability unless they are prepared with homemade stock or a supplement of gelatin or collagen. It is interesting to remember that preparing foods like meat and garden veggies were many times traditionally cooked with the bones attached to the meat or in a collagen-rich stock infused soup. I have to think our tummy troubles have gotten a lot worse in our modern culture due to the  boneless, skinless, stockless meals so many of us eat. Food sensitivities are on the rise. The standard American diet has left an  very important ingredient behind.

Science confirms that when cooked foods are eaten with gelatin they are much more easily digested and assimilated. Gelatin/Collagen contains the gut healing amino acid glutamine which is a fuel for our intestinal walls. It is interesting to note that breast milk contains naturally high levels of glutamine and is of course so soothing to the digestive tract.  Studies on Glutamine have shown it to be protective against mucosal breakdown in the gut. Research conducted by Dr. Gotthoffer, a well know researcher and author of the book “Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine”, extensively studied gelatin’s role in digestion and found that babies in need of supplementation other than breast milk could better digest their milk with gelatin added. Babies whose milk was not supplemented with gelatin had much higher rates of intestinal problems and allergies (see “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO” toward the end of this article  for safety for babies and nursing mamas and my own personal experience ).

REVERSES ALLERGIES

Many food allergies are thought to come from a leaky gut, and nutrition expert Lisa LaBarr says that adding gelatin to a child’s diet can reverse allergies by healing the stomach and intestines. Homemade gelatin-rich Gummy bears here we come… (checkout  Lemon Pucker Gummies in the THM Cookbook, page 387). Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions and founder of the Western A. Price Foundation, explains in her book that gelatin has been researched to help alleviate fatigue, asthma, Crohn’s disease and colitis. These issues can be the direct symptoms of, or even just exasperated by allergies.

BACK TO VANGE

Okay, back to our sister Vange and her collagen-rich stock and collagen supplementing testimony. Not only did she experience digestion relief through rich sources of collagen in her diet, but she started to excitedly tell all who would listen that she was sleeping like a baby for the first time in years! For decades she suffered with insomnia and couldn’t get a full night’s rest, but her stock drinking and collagen supplementing habits turned this scenario around.

If you don’t want to take Vange’s word alone then let’s talk some science again. Studies connect the amino acid glycine that is so rich in collagen to improved sleep cycles and to the triggering of sleep aiding neurotransmitters and enzymes.

PROMOTES RESTORATIVE SLEEP

The theory is that when our body’s core temperature is hot we can run through our sleep cycles more rapidly than when we are cool. Glycine promotes a better quality nights sleep by reliably maintaining a lower core body temperature during sleep. Apparently, the glycine in collagen doesn’t actually get somebody to sleep faster, but once asleep it helps them enter into the restorative deep sleep phase and stay there for longer. Oh yeah Mamas… I’m gonna have my Hot Chocolate Trimmy before bed tonight!! Probably due to its promotion of such an awesome night sleep, the glycine in collagen is also famous for reducing daytime sleepiness and helping improve concentration, learning, and memory.

CHOPS OFF THE HEAD OF ANXIETY

This science of how collagen helps those fearing bed times due to traumatized nights of staring at the ceiling for hours does not end here. This incredible amino acid has potent, anti-anxiety properties. Glycine has receptors distributed throughout our body including our spinal cord and brain stem areas. When we feel anxiety, a fight or flight hormone called norepinephrine, is released and creates a feeling of panic and stress within us. Glycine is an antagonist of norepinephrine which means it literally chops off its head and makes you feel calm once again. Glycine, abundantly supplied in collagen/gelatin, has a quieting, protective, and anti-stress action in every cell and promotes recovery from strokes and seizures.

Anti-anxiety medications use the same mechanism of targeting the body’s inhibitory neurotransmitters to bring on feelings of calm, but they sadly carry with them a host of dangerous side effects. Some daily collagen is a much cheaper, safer, and yummier way of soothing the nervous system and our emotions. Some years ago I suffered with a season of intense panic attacks after adrenal burnout and some emotionally stressful situations. After much healing, I am still very aware now of the mental pathway to panic. When I sense the first signs of it I enjoy a soothing Healing Trimmy, a comfy couch, and my bible for an effective balm of relaxation.

TRIMS YOU DOWN!

Okay, what next? Weight reduction and appetite suppression. Yep. Collagen, when supplemented properly (see “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO” toward the end of this article for how to supplement properly), has a hand in both of these. All proteins are known as the most “crave-curbing” and satiating of all macronutrients. The collagen peptides, like those in Integral Collagen, have been shown to be more effective for satiety than other forms of protein. Research shows that collagen peptides taken at breakfast time are 40% more satiating than other proteins and subsequently induce a 20% reduced intake of food later at lunch. This is soooooo interesting to me because when Pearl and I began experimenting with using gelatin or collagen in our recipes we both noticed a dramatic sense of satiety. This was one of the first things that we experienced after adding it into our diets.

FIRES UP YOUR METABOLISM

Apparently collagen satisfies by stimulating hormones that are responsible for satiety in the brain. It revs the thermogenic temperature of your body and fires up your metabolism because it takes even more energy than other proteins for oxidation. This way you burn calories just with digestion. No need for jumping jacks… but you just might have the energy for them… woot!

Collagen stimulates your body to release glucagon which is the body’s “fat strippin” hormone. In fact just like we mentioned above with satiety, collagen peptides stimulate more glucagon than other forms of protein. Collagen is a very powerful tool to have in our weight loss belt. The amino acid glycine that we talk a lot about is found abundantly in collagen and is needed to form creatine which promotes healthy muscle growth and energy. With more energy to move and exercise and more lean muscle on board to keep our metabolisms fired up it yet again encourages a healthy trim weight.

RICH IN PROLINE AND ARGININE (which fight obesity)

Glycine is not the only amazing little amino acid that collagen boasts. It is also rich in proline and arginine, both of which help in the battle against obesity. Arginine promotes fat metabolism and the release of human growth hormone, which we will talk about a little more soon. Proline helps your artery walls release fat and reduces fat accumulation in the arteries. There are many more talents to arginine and proline including the latter being vital for skin beauty and firmness and arginine’s ability to enhance the breakdown of fat cells, build lean muscle tissue, and its use in forming creatine. Remember, creatine builds healthy muscle which in turn burns calories and also uses up blood glucose, thereby lowering your blood sugar.

SURGES GROWTH HORMONE

Japanese researchers have now determined that glycine, the most abundant amino acid in collagen, has stimulatory effects on Human Growth Hormone. In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nutritionists at the University of Maastricht write about their discovery with gelatin and Human Growth Hormone. Two hours after eating a generous portion of gelatin, the body has a surge in growth hormone production. All protein will cause a release peaking 2 hours post ingestion, but gelatin/collagen is the most powerful and causes the biggest rise.

BALANCES HORMONES

Keeping our Human Growth Hormone surging as much as we can naturally as we age is a major factor in controlling weight. HGH holds on to lean muscle and repels fat. And while we are on the subject of hormones, let’s discuss how collagen can help with balancing your other hormones.

You body require amino acids (proteins) to make hormones. Skinless, boneless, stockless muscle meats (which is how they are so often consumed today in our western culture) are high in the amino acids tryptophan and cysteine. These amino acids are involved in producing cortisol which is our stress hormone. Neither cortisol or these amino acids are by nature bad. They are both necessary for our bodies but we just don’t not want them to be out of balance. When tryptophan, and cysteine are not balanced properly they actually suppress thyroid function. Muscle meats lack glycine and proline which are wonderfully abundant in collagen and are involved in the making of thyroid hormones. Collagen also lacks tryptophan which when consumed, happily helps balance out our normally high dietary intake of this amino acid.

As you read in our book The Trim Healthy Mama Plan, our modern diets are also high in the amino acid methionine. When in balance, it’s super de duper amazing for us, but when consumed in imbalanced proportions causes premature aging. The amino acids in collagen naturally balance methionine and restore an amino acid equilibrium that favors healthy hormonal balance. When your diet has a balance of amino acids, your metabolism can literally purr unhindered by the burden of an off-centered protein profile which can wreak havoc on your thyroid and increases cortisol.

TRIMMY UP YOUR MEAL

Ray Peat, a nutritional counselor and hormone researcher, advises consuming 5-10 grams of collagen or gelatin (equaling ½ to 1 scoop of THM Integral Collagen) when eating a meal with large amounts of skinless or boneless muscle meat. His theory is that when supplementing with collagen or gelatin your meal will be much healthier and the amino acids will enter the blood stream in balance. Sipping “Beauty Milk”, your favorite Trimmy, “Purist Primer on the Go”, or real bone broth (all found in the THM Cookbook) during a meat heavy meal takes care of this perfectly. Pearl and I prefer to suggest lowering your meat a little in your meal and saving some fuel space for your Trimmy or collagen treat so you are not abusing calories and consuming too much fuel. A perfect balance for optimum trimming of your body would be slightly less meat than you would normally eat and an added half scoop of collagen. (See FINAL IMPORTANT INFO  toward the end of this article for how to supplement for weight loss).

STOPS THE LIFE LINE THAT FEED CANCER

On to the next… yes, we are still not done singing the praises of this ancient, traditional, medicinal food making a modern comeback as collagen peptides… Let’s talk about its ability to prevent and battle cancerous cells. The amino acids found in collagen peptides have a broad range of cell-protective abilities. Glycine is a potent wound healer and tumor inhibitor. It fights tumors with many actions, one being angiogenesis which is the inhibition of new blood vessel formation in cancerous tumors. It helps stop cancer in its tracks and defends against new lifelines that feed it.

A CANCER PREVENTATIVE DIET SHOULD BE RICH IN COLLAGEN

This amazing glycine found so richly in collagen has shown protective activity against liver cancer and melanoma in many studies. Remember how we discussed that collagen makes up a hefty chunk of the body’s overall protein and how it is the very scaffolding that makes up our extra cellular matrix in healthy tissue? Cancer breaks down this extra cellular matrix. A cancer preventative diet or even a cancer fighting diet should be rich in collagen-rich bone broths or supplementation. Dr. Matthias Rath, who has done extensive study on cancer and its correlation with collagen dissolving says, “Both infectious diseases and cancer spread throughout the organism breaking down the collagen in the adjacent connective tissue.”

HEALTHY COLLAGEN LEVELS THWART THE SREAD OF CANCER

A brick wall without mortar can easily crumble or be pushed over. If collagen is the glue that holds our cells together it only makes sense that our cellular tissue can be easily weakened without adequate collagen and can become vulnerable to dangerous disease causing invaders. Healthy collagen levels can thwart the spread of cancer by forming a strong force against metastasizing growth.

THE SCOOP ON COLLAGEN DISSOLVING ENZYMES

For any cell to pass through connective tissue for an untold number of bodily processes, collagen must be first dissolved temporarily. This is a positive process and occurs by the influence of collagen dissolving enzymes. One example of this is during a woman’s cycle when her egg has to break through her ovarian wall and make its way through her fallopian tube and into her uterus. You can see here the healthy action of collagen dissolving, after which the body blocks these particular enzymes, and begins to heal the ovarian wall. A properly functioning immune system also uses these collagen dissolving enzymes to allow the white blood cells to move through the cell wall to the area of battle.

This awesome insight into the intricacies of how our bodies work for our good takes a dark twist when we find out that villainous viruses, “meany” microorganisms, and “bad boy” bacteria use this same collagen dissolving mechanism to invade our healthy cells. Science is now revealing that we succumb to the common cold because of this collagen dissolving process. Cancer can be metastasized, inflammatory diseases advanced, and cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis worsened with this internal phenomenon. So what is a proactive Mama to do to thwart this negative action of collagen dissolving?  Besides from supplementing with dietary collagen, the answer lies with the same antagonizing influence that firms up dissolved collagen when the body breaks it down in healthy functions. Collagen dissolving enzyme blockers are the key, and aside from those intrinsically produced by our body, dietary sources are specifically lysine, proline, and vitamin C.

TAKE ACTION WITH COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTATION, VITAMIN C, AND ENZYME BLOCKERS

Let’s start with lysine, which blocks collagen dissolving enzymes. It is the most necessary of the nine essential amino acids that our body must source from our diet. Lysine blocks anchor sites in our connective tissue that are used by collagen dissolving enzymes to attach and initiate their collagen destruction. Even though diseased cells may still be producing lots of collagen digesting enzymes, they are rendered useless because they have no anchor site. This is the action lysine favorably encourages to help prevent and stop infections and diseases in their tracks. Supplemental collagen naturally contains ample lysine, which in turn beautifully protects your own collagen stores.

A CLOSER LOOK AT LYSINE

Most people have a chronic deficiency of this essential amino acid which dulls their body’s normal, healthy level of intrinsic enzyme blocking abilities. The Research Gate Scientific Network says lysine also acts as a building block for proteins and builds the fibrils and fibers of collagen. Stanford University of California Researchers report that collagen produced in the brain protects against the plaques of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Vitamin C Foundation, a lack of collagen causes hemorrhages due to blood vessels breaking down. We will talk more about this last point in just a bit.

ENRICH YOUR DIET WITH LYSINE TO PROTECT COLLAGEN STORES

Taking collagen peptides provides an easy, absorbed source of lysine. Other dietary sources of lysine include: red meat, poultry, cheese, sardines, nuts, and beans. Brewer’s yeast and spirulina also contain lysine. Some might need to take supplemental lysine, if suffering ailments like heart disease. (Supplemental lysine is considered safe as excess amounts are naturally excreted from the body).

PROTECT  YOUR OWN COLLAGEN WITH PROLINE AND VITAMIN C

To help us look more closely at the other two choice collagen protecting properties, proline and vitamin C, let’s put collagen itself under the microscope. Collagen is made up of three tightly woven chains of amino acids. Glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are the three superstars in collagen’s glue-like strength. The collagen chain is first built with glycine and proline and then the body modifies some of the proline molecules into hydroxyproline,  which is the amino acid necessary for collagen’s stability.

VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY PARALYSES YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE NEW COLLAGEN

Lysine is also modified into hydroxylysine by the same catalyst and also fortifies collagen’s strength. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are created by a reaction when they mix with oxygen, but there is a fine print to this step. This much needed process, or reaction, is dependent on adequate vitamin C levels. When vitamin C transforms proline and lysine into their hydroxy form, they become known as procollagen. Procollagen is used to reinforce collagen. You may have heard about vitamin C being a catalyst for the production of collagen in your body or skin. It is true. A vitamin C deficiency paralyzes your body’s ability to form new collagen. So you see how both proline and vitamin C are key players in restoring or preventing collagen breakdown? Good sources of vitamin C are your dark green veggies like leafy greens, okra, and green peppers. Of course berries are great sources, too! And did you notice that these just happen to be superstars on the THM plan?

IMPORTANT PROLINE

Proline is critical for collagen renewal, and even though it is a nonessential amino acid (meaning you don’t require it in your diet), it is only synthesized by your body in tiny amounts. The problem comes when ailments and disease or even just the onslaught of modern day toxins barrage our bodies with significant enzyme destruction of collagen. This leaves many with a handicapped ability to produce adequate amounts of proline. Ingesting collagen supplements like Integral Collagen provides us with generous amounts of this special amino acid.

MORE COLLAGEN ACTIVATING NUTRIENTS

Taking a supplement of vitamin C, in a well-absorbable form, is helpful as well. Vitamin C is said to increase collagen synthesis by a whopping 800%. While on the subject of collagen synthesis, and as a side note, exfoliating the skin also helps generate more collagen in our dermal layers. Three cheers for the Trim Healthy Naturals Spunj! It gently, but super efficiently, exfoliates our skin and leaves it more youthful and glowing with every swirl on our face.

The hydroxylysine amino acids we mentioned earlier, that help make up procollagen, are glycosylated. This glycosylation step enhances fibril size and imparts a unique chemical and structural strength to the collagen molecule. The trace mineral manganese, found in foods like nuts, seeds, and spinach, is required by the enzymes that catalyze this important step.

Other collagen activating nutrients include: copper found richly in kale, mushrooms, and sesame seeds. Another dietary support for the formation of collagen are foods high in anthocyanidins like blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.

A RABBIT TRAIL ON COLLAGEN PRESERVING

While we were discussing the biological process of collagen dissolving enzymes, and not only their healthy function but also their rogue use by offending pathogens, an interesting paralleling thought crossed my brain. Middle Chain Triglycerides (otherwise known as MCTs) found in coconut, palm oil, and also in mother’s milk are much smaller and more fluid or malleable than other fatty acids.

They carry the remarkable ability to permeate through cell walls. They break open cell walls that are infected with viruses, bacteria, and disease and help rid the awful pathogens with their anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, immune boosting, and healing power. It is just interesting to me how most good and bad bodily processes use collagen dissolving enzymes to unlock their way and advancement but this remarkable oil can do this alone. MCT oil and coconut oil, so rich in these fatty acids, build up our immune system so we have less loogie boogies to attack our collagen stores. Oh, and isn’t it interesting how our Creator designed  mother’s milk, also abundant in MCTs, as the most immune supporting superfood for human being’s first years? Go MCT oil… you rock!

A RABBIT TRAIL ON A MODERN DAY TWIST TO AN ANCIENT DISEASE

We don’t hear much about scurvy these days, unless we are reading a novel about a long voyage lost at sea. This disease of yore may not be manifesting itself as it had in the past, when vitamin V deficiency could become chronic with dramatic side effects, but scurvy has not altogether disappeared from our modern list of ailments. Some, like German doctor Matthias Rath, believe it to be the root cause behind many current ailments and degenerative diseases.

Without adequate vitamin C, collagen cannot be manufactured. This has a domino effect much larger than one would expect. Scurvy is an ailment where our body literally falls apart as our collagen is broken down and cannot be remade. Joints fail, tendons shrivel, blood vessels weaken and cave in.  This causes fatal hemorrhages, gums can no longer anchor our teeth, and the dominoes keep falling. Our organs lose their structural strength and can no longer function as designed and every tissue of the body breaks down.  The immune system is compromised, the heart fails, and the last domino falls.

COLLAGEN DEPLETION IS LOW-LEVEL SCURVY

Scurvy is happening on a slow and drawn out scale in many who sadly eat the very nutrient lacking standard American diet with limited fresh produce providing adequate vitamin C. Our modern day diet is also deficient in dietary collagen sources like bone broth and “skin on and bone in” cuts of meat that were enjoyed in yesteryears. Many do not get there much needed trace minerals like manganese and copper or sufficient amounts of lysine and proline for the manufacturing of collagen which is being broken down daily by natural wear and tear, aging and the onslaught of environmental free radicals.

RAISE YOUR SINGING CANARY GLASS

Those of us who deal with weakened adrenals are at greater risk of vitamin C deficiency as our normal ability to store healthy levels of C are impaired. When our adrenals are burnt out, the breakdown of connective tissue in our body is much greater. Supplementing with vitamin C and drinking the THM Singing Canary Sipper (THM Cookbook, p. 398), bolstered with a tsp or two of collagen peptides, would be a proactive and beneficial preventative of collagen wasting in the body.

IS HEART DISEASE JUST A FORM OF SCURVY?

Dr. Matthias Rath’s associate, Linus Pauling, was an American scientist who won two Nobel Prizes. He made a breakthrough in how heart disease should be viewed and ultimately treated. His extensive research led him to believe that the deposits of plaque connected with atherosclerosis were not the root cause of heart disease at all. Linus Pauling believed that heart disease was actually a form of scurvy. According to his theory, plaque was actually the body’s life saving attempt to reinforce and shore-up weakened blood vessels and arteries that would otherwise be in danger of rupturing. Plaque was the bodies fix-it glue to repair damage done by long term vitamin C deficiency and ultimately a lack of collagen. This is amazing stuff here, people! Pauling also believed that the accepted “triggers” of plaque formation, such as homocysteine and oxidized cholesterol, are actually just additional symptoms of low-level scurvy.

Pauling’s theory finally explained a niggling unanswered question never before addressed by older mainstream theories. The fact that plaque is not randomly distributed throughout the body, but only restricted to areas of high mechanical stress, was never rationalized or resolved until Pauling’s theory of collagen breakdown and low-level scurvy. Numerous animal studies support this new breakthrough theory.  Those animals who cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, when deprived of adequate amounts of this vitamin show major collagen breakdown and their blood vessels thin and weaken. Other studies depriving animals of vitamin C confirm this scientist’s findings and show increasing blood levels of Lp(a) and deposits of plaque forming in their arteries to strengthen them against vessel ruptures.

A CHEAP ALTERNATIVE TO BYPASS SURGERY

The unified theory of cardiovascular disease by Pauling and Rath is an incredible breakthrough of modern science. Sadly, it has gone mostly unnoticed by the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and the media. The biggest reason being because real help for cardiovascular disease is actually cheap and easy, you can’t patent it, and it would cause a major hole in the pocket of every major hospital. Bypass surgery is one of the biggest industries in America. According to Stephen Cherniske, biochemist and author of DHEA Breakthrough, surgery to fix a blocked coronary artery accounts for 30 to 40% of many hospitals total income.

LP(a) CHOLESTEROL IS JUST LIFE SAVING ARTERIAL CRACK-N-DENT  FILLER

Pauling, the founder of modern chemistry and holder of 48 honorary PhDs, found that when this deficiency in vitamin C causes a breakdown of collagen (and the subsequent need for a buildup and patching of the arterial walls) it uses the cholesterol known as Lp(a) as its crack filler. This Nobel Prize winning scientist learned that Lp(a) binds to strands of lysine protruding from these weak and damaged blood vessels. This is when he invented the high-lysine therapy used also by Dr. Matthias Rath. When this safe, essential, and nontoxic amino acid is supplemented it puts extra lysine molecules in the blood that enter into competition with the lysyl residue on the wall of arteries. These lysine molecules prevent  Lp(a) from being deposited and can even function as Lp(a) removal crews and actually pull it loose and destroy this artery clogging plaque.

RAMP UP COLLAGEN PRODUCTION TO PREVENT HEART DISEASE

When we supplement with collagen, which naturally provides lysine, we help to provide this positive environment against cardiovascular disease and help our bodies literally melt plaque and keep our arteries open. By combining our daily collagen dose with abundant dietary sources, or easily absorbable supplemental vitamin C, we prevent this low-level scurvy that science is now revealing initiates the problem. Linus Pauling suggests however that those individuals inflicted with heart disease, or who show high risk markers, should supplement with at least 2 grams of supplemental lysine and 5 or 6 grams of vitamin C daily.

VITAMIN C, COLLAGEN, AND PREGNANT MAMAS

Vitamin C deficiency, and its subsequent collagen manufacturing zapping, does not only negatively affect heart disease but is especially dangerous for a developing baby in the womb. Pregnant Trim Healthy Mamas, listen up! Researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported in the journal PLOS ONE that pregnant women with a vitamin C deficiency are at greater risk of having a baby whose brain does not develop properly. Let’s eat our large, dark green leafy salads so rich in this nutrient and “bottoms up” our shots of vitamin C-rich Singing Canary with a bit of supplemental collagen thrown in for good measure. (To be on the safest side, pregnant woman may want to use only half the turmeric and vitamin C called for in the Singing Canary Shot found on page 399 of the THM Cookbook.) Pregnancy puts our bodies in an extra need of manufacturing collagen which is such a foundational and integral building block for growth and life.

FIBROMYALGIA HELP

Okay, where are we in this long journey to get to know collagen? Oh, let’s briefly talk about its benefit for those with fibromyalgia. Some researchers believe that sufferers of this disease marked by unexplainable muscle pain have low amounts of collagen type III in their bodies. It is interesting to note that it is this collagen type III that is the collagen first laid down by the body in the connective tissue healing process.

It makes sense that if in fact those inflicted with fibromyalgia are deprived of this important collagen, their bodies will not be able to repair properly at this deep cellular level and will suffer pain and inflammation as a consequence. This lack of collagen and its resulting pain inflicted on the body is a confirmed speculation when we look at the genetic disease Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS). Those who are inflicted with this disease lack a chromosomal marker for making collagen and suffer much pain as a result. Some sufferers of this syndrome have tried supplemental collagen and have seen improvement in their symptoms.

CONFIRMED PAIN IMPROVEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS

Research concludes that patients with fibromyalgia and concurrent temporomandibular joint pain have gained improvement in their chronic symptoms with the addition of hydrolyzed collagen in their diet. A 90-day evaluation was completed on 20 people who had been medically diagnosed with fibromyalgia for at least 2-15+ years to determine the effects of collagen supplementation. The participants were initially evaluated and then again at 30, 60 and finally 90 day periods. The results were weighed against comparisons and the overall group average of pain complaint levels decreased significantly. That’s the boring study… The not so boring is what we hear from our Trim Healthy Mamas! Many are telling us that they are experiencing real relief from fibromyalgia for the first time in years after being on-plan and adding in collagen.

MY INADEQUACY TO SHED PROPER LIGHT

We really need the space of an entire book to fully uncover and dig into the virtues of collagen, science, and personal health. You may think this a long article but I feel it is sadly hampered by my meager attempt to convey just a little and not nearly the entirety of its merits. I have left out much detail, many studies, and just skimmed the surface of understanding this integral food-based medicine. Like a hyperactive and excitable pup in my studies, I have raced from rabbit trail to rabbit trail. I hope you have been able to glean some helpful knowledge to give you clarity into this sadly missing natural food therapy. You’ll most likely find “Collagen 102″ available in the Trim Healthy Membership site soon. So before we close, let’s address the safety issues of daily supplementation to finally clear the air of any negative myths that might be lurking… And let’s welcome back all the readers who skipped the middle part of this article and just want the necessaries.

FINAL IMPORTANT INFO

SAFETY – IT’S A FOOD, NOT A DRUG!

Collagen/gelatin supplements are really just foods. They are pure proteins that are nontoxic and free from any known adverse side effect. They are not a pharmaceutical drug and in their pure form are free from additives and preservatives. Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin have been rated by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the highest safety category – labeled GRAS after clinical testing. It can be taken with any other medications, without contraindications, and the FDA has posed no restrictions on its use. Research has also been done in-depth for any potential cancer vulnerability with long term administration and the results reveal no increase in carcinogenicity or mutagenicity.

But everyone is unique and can react differently to different foods. Having said that, there have been no reported serious reactions to hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin in clinical tests. In the recent international Moskowitz study, the worst of any complaints was diarrhea. We do hear back from a few of our Mamas that it causes them stomach discomfort. A good way to deal with that is to start with very small amounts and work slowly up to 1 scoop per day (a THM Integral Collagen scoop equals 1.5 Tbsp). Regarding gelatin, it should always be bloomed before eating. This simply means it needs to be mixed first with cold water and then with hot water to dissolve. Ingesting unbloomed gelatin can cause stomach discomfort. Food incompatibilities that are common with other proteins resulting from enzyme intestinal defects are not shown with collagen/gelatin.

In the past there have been brief concerns about animal diseases such as Mad Cow Disease transferring into gelatin. There has never been a confirmation of this by Food and Drug Administrations throughout the world.  The process to obtain gelatin and produce collagen supplements is highly controlled. The manufacturing steps used make the risk of contamination impossible. Quality does matter. Always seek out a pasture-raised source of collagen and gelatin. You don’t want a whole bunch of hormones and antibiotics in your powder.

BABY SAFE

We get lots of questions from nursing Mamas about whether they should supplement with collagen or not. I’ll keep my response personal and not just cite a boring bunch of research studies.  My latest little bubby (how we say baby in kiwi land) has had to deal with genetic high palate issues. It is hard for him to properly empty the breast efficiently because his high palate makes him lose a strong nursing suction. I have had to pump my breast milk after I naturally nurse him then supplement him further with my milk through a Lact-Aid nursing supplementer to make sure he gets enough.

With the busyness of a large family and then the added bustle of writing, researching, and working alongside Pearl for Trim Healthy Mama, I was not always able to get those 7 scheduled pumps in. I’ve had to sometimes supplement with the Weston A Price raw milk formula. My little Remmy, who is almost 12 months now, thrives on it! He is nice and plump… and what do you know? The recipe calls for collagen-rich gelatin. So the same grass-fed, Trim Healthy Mama Just Gelatin that I throw into my own Trimmies and treats is the very one I also use to make his special formula. Some who are new to collagen and gelatin supplements raise concern about the safety of this kind of supplement, but I have been feeding it to my own baby upon much researched recommendation and he is a healthy, vibrant specimen whose happy smile melts my heart at every turn.

NO FEAR OF MSG WITH INTEGRAL COLLAGEN

Some of our readers have voiced concern about glutamic acid and MSG in collagen products. Our Trim Healthy Mama Integral Collagen contains approximately 11% glutamic acid that is bound to the gelatin protein chains and is not free glutamate. It is only the free glutamate that poses concern. Individuals sensitive to MSG do not have problems with glutamic acid as part of a protein chain. Other common food proteins are actually a lot higher in glutamic acid than gelatin or collagen.

MORE FREE GLUTAMIC ACID IN HUMAN BLOOD THAN INTEGRAL COLLAGEN

Glutamic acid, as part of protein chains, is not considered a problem for MSG sensitive individuals. In independent laboratory testing, collagen hydrolysate showed free glutamic acid at only 0.09%. There is more free glutamic acid in human blood than in the Trim Healthy Mama Integral Collagen.

UNDERSTANDING  GLUTAMIC ACID

Glutamic acid is an amino acid common in plants and animals. Nearly every food contains glutamate. It is found richly in meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese as well as plant sources like grains, beans, mushrooms, nuts and fruit and veggies of both land and sea. Of the 20 amino acids in mother’s milk, glutamic acid is the most abundant. Besides from being a building block of proteins and peptides, glutamic acid is found in most tissue and even manufactured in the brain. It is vital in the transmission of nerve impulses. Our bodies produce roughly 50 milligrams of glutamic acid every day

A CLOSER LOOK AT GLUTAMIC ACID

For a quick, closer look at glutamate… it is categorized as either L-glutamic acid or D-glutamic acid. The kind found in natural food is the L-glutamic kind and is bound to the protein chain and does good not harm to the body. When we metabolize protein foods our body naturally hydrolyzes it in our stomachs and lower intestines through the use of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes. A healthy person’s body then controls the amount of glutamic acid that it takes from protein. Excess glutamic acid is not stored by the body, so L-glutamic acid is never toxic but rather passed as waste.

LET’S NOT GET TOO CRAY CRAY

Let’s not demonize a healthy ingredient because its name sounds closely related to something actually villainous. Some people are so scared of glutamic acid they have removed many of our God-designed and bestowed natural foods from their diet. They choose to cook their meat the more carcinogenic high heat way in an effort to diminish the glutamic acid that is naturally released in slow cooked meats. They say the slow cooking method hydrolyzes the amino acids and releases some free glutamic acid, but don’t you remember that this is a natural process that happens when we simply digest protein foods? Some even shy away from gut healing superfoods like fermented foods just to avoid a little glutamate.  Let’s not get too “cray cray” and lose our food sanity over food molecules that are designed to be embraced and not eliminated.

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT PROPERLY

Two words – “DON’T OVERDO!”

We often get asked, “What is the right amount of collagen to take per day?”  There is no hard set number to shoot for. If you make your own homemade bone stock and eat that daily, your requirements will be less or none at all. For the rest of us, anything from 1/2 a scoop to 2 scoops of Integral Collagen or Just Gelatin per day can be extremely helpful. That breaks down to 3/4 a tablespoon to 3 tablespoons per day. No need to go over two scoops. If budget is tight, you should still see great improvements in hair, skin, pain, etc with just one scoop daily over several months time… and you can break that scoop up into smaller amounts during the day. Many times we only put a tsp or two into our Trimmies if we are paring that with an already protein-rich snack.

Supplementing properly means not in excess of fuel needs. Still confused? The simple fact is if you are filling up on your usual fare, ‘till your gills are completely stuffed, and then you top your gullet to the limit with a Trimmy loaded with a full scoop or two of collagen… then you are in danger zone of excess calories! Excess of what your body needs becomes trash! We don’t count calories on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, but we don’t abuse them either. Your wonderful superfood supplement that is so weight loss friendly can tip the scale a little higher – as would any other wonder food topped on top of an already filled digestive system.

LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM!

Here is your mantra for collagen/gelatin supplementation – “Replace… don’t just add.” When properly supplementing with collagen, you need to leave a little room for your Trimmified coffee or collagen treat so that it becomes part of your fuel needs and not over and above what your body can burn. If your body doesn’t need the fuel, the scale will kindly oblige and take on the extra numbers. If you usually eat 3 fried eggs for breakfast and want to add a good amount of collagen, well then just fry up 2 and leave room for your full collagen scoop Trimmy. Or, alternatively you could just add 1 tsp of collagen to your Trimmy and keep your 3 eggs – adding the remainder of your collagen to another Trimmy or treat later on in the day.

Here is what not to do when adding collagen. Let’s take breakfast. Don’t eat 3 to 4 eggs, 2 sausage patties, some low-carb, gluten free bread, mushrooms cooked in butter, and then add to that a coffee enriched with a full scoop or two of collagen and a bunch of cream! Yes, that’s all on-plan, but you’re overdoing it, Girl! You have plenty of protein in the eggs alone… let alone the meat and the collagen! Sure it is fine to have a big ol’ breakfast of bacon and eggs for a satisfying meal on the Trim Healthy Mama plan on a Saturday morning, but if your weight is tad stubborn, pull back a little. Just have 2 eggs, if you’re having a meat with them. Do, at most… a half a scoop of collagen in any meal with both eggs and meats. You probably actually only need a tsp or two if your protein amounts are already high. If you want to add more collagen, for health’s sake, eat just a couple of whole eggs and some added egg whites and veggies… now you can add more collagen to your coffee.

A similar thing applies when making shakes and smoothies… Here’s another case of what not to do. You make a Trim Healthy Mama shake or Frappa that calls for one scoop of THM Pristine Whey Protein. You think, “Well now, I want the benefits of collagen… gotta get me some long, glossy locks growing… so in goes a scoop or two of collagen… the more the better right?”  Hold up! You’re adding – not replacing!  Simply use half a scoop of whey and half a scoop of collagen. You’ll still receive plenty of protein that way and get the creamy, fluffiness that the whey provides (and the different health benefits it offers), plus a nice dose of collagen or gelatin to balance out your protein profile.

Collagen really shines when your meal or snack has less than adequate protein. Put it in soups that don’t contain a lot of meat. Want a delicious THM dessert for an afternoon treat, but feel that it doesn’t contain quite enough protein? Then feel free to use a full scoop of collagen in any meal or snack like that.

Coconut oil and MCT oil are known weight loss metabolic raving foods when these fats replace other less waist friendly fats or calories. But if you add them on top of a McDonald’s Big Mac… they won’t be so waist whittling! In other words, we need to make sure these weight loss friendly foods become part of our planned fuel intake and not extra add ons… to tip the scales. Collagen, in clinical studies (as well as being proven by countless testimonies), does indeed help fight obesity and combat excessive appetite. But any weight loss aid, when used in excess of your meal, will be counterproductive to this goal. Got it?

IN CLOSING:  SHOULDN’T A WELL-BALANCED DIET PROVIDE  EVERYTHING WE NEED, MAKING COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS UNNECESSARY?

As we come to our final thoughts, let’s remind ourselves of why we even need to fuss with adding this white powder to our diet. Can’t we just eat a well-balanced diet and keep truckin’? The answer is yes. But the problem lies in the fact that in our modern culture, we don’t know what a balanced diet should look like anymore. The majority of us don’t have bone stocks bubbling away on the stove or seek bone-in and skin-on meat cuts. Most of the mass produced packaged meats found in grocery stores today are proud of their boneless, skinless labels.

A LOST ANCIENT ART

We need to supplement with collagen because the majority of us have lost the art of harnassing it in our cooking. Many of us simply don’t have the time for long and old fashioned cooking methods and we need to use prepared collagen peptides for the sake of practicality. Our bodies are faced with a barrage of environmental toxins that our forefathers didn’t have to deal with. We modern folk need the strengthening, supportive, and cleansing properties found in this treasure food that is so easy to take. We may not have the perfectly balanced mineral-rich soils today but we have the opportunity to harness technology and use it for our blessing and not our curse.

A GIFT OF MODERN SCIENCE

Whole food extracted supplements are our gift of science and help balance out whatever negative consequences have come from our modern constant yearning to advance and leap forward. Collagen peptides are a fruit “ripe for the taking” from the tree of helpful science. I’m a bone stock maker myself and encourage others to keep alive the traditions of millennia and simmer that golden pot of life’s elixir. But many are simply not going to do it! Collagen peptide supplements like Integral Collagen, along with other healthy scientific breakthroughs and blessings, are a lifeboat amidst the tossing sea of modern day living.

– SERENE ALLISON
Protector of Purist Mama Peeps and Friend Not Foe to Pearl and Her Drive Thru Sue-ness

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stevia & other sweeteners

Get answers to your frequently asked questions concerning stevia and other sweeteners below!

Be sure to read Serene and Pearl’s article “Honey -vs- Stevia”. It’s located below the question and answer section.

Can you tell me about the THM Sweeteners?

We’d love to! Most people buy both the Stevia Pure Extract Powder and one or both of the blends – the Super Sweet Blend or  Gentle Sweet. The two blends shine in different ways. Each can be used as a sole sweetener, if you only want to purchase one. Some have found that our newest blend, Gentle Sweet, has been the answer to their sweetener prayers. It tastes the most like sugar and it’s excellent in treats and is friendly to your coffee. Super Sweet Blend is very potent, so it is super economical.

  • Stevia: If budget is your biggest concern, THM Pure Stevia Extract is extremely economical, because a little goes such a long way. Our stevia extract IS NOT an artificial or chemical sweetener. Our extract is made from the non-bitter, naturally occurring, sweet component of the herb stevia – a glycoside called Rebaudioside A. This naturally sweet component is isolated from the stevia leaf, using a gentle water extraction process.  A very tiny amount, which we call a doonk (1/32 tsp) sweetens a tall glass of tea easily. Your smoothies, shakes and frappas should not need more than 2-3 doonks, so your pouch of stevia will last for months. It is not a conventional way to sweeten baked goods, but experienced stevia extract users can use just small amounts ¼ – ½ teaspoon to sweeten a whole batch of muffins. Single serve muffins can be sweetened with 2-3 doonks of this extract. You can try 2 doonks in your Skinny Chocolate, but many prefer Gentle Sweet for that recipe.
  • Gentle Sweet (Stevia, Erythritol, Xylitol Blend): If you’re having trouble adjusting to the taste of stevia, you can sweeten those “hard to get right” treats with THM Gentle Sweet and bank on the word “yum!” passing your lips. The Trim Healthy Mama community fell in love with our Pure Stevia Extract and Super Sweet Blend, but some kept begging us for a sweetener that popped like pure sugar itself. Gentle Sweet Blend has a cotton-candy taste, but won’t mess with your blood sugar. Gentle Sweet is already powdered for you and ready to use in your favorite sweet treats. This sweetener has become the favorite of many of our newer (and veteran) THMs. Please Note: Xylitol which can be harmful to dogs. Keep all xylitol sweetened treats away from your fur babies. Canine-safe Xylitol-Free Gentle Sweet Available Here!
  • Super Sweet Blend (Stevia & Erythritol Blend): Our THM Super Sweet Blend is the perfect combination of two natural sweeteners, non-GMO Erythritol and our organic, Pure Stevia Extract powder. Both are diabetic friendly, certified kosher, offer numerous health benefits, and have no impact upon blood sugar.  Super Sweet Blend is about four times as sweet as sugar, so no need to use cup for cup when replacing sugar in a recipe. Try ¼ the Super Sweet Blend, if a recipe calls for 1 cup sugar. Our Super Sweet Blend is also much sweeter than Truvia, so if you are used to using that, try ½ as much of the Super Sweet Blend as Truvia.  It is also twice as sweet as our Gentle Sweet. Skinny Chocolate tastes great with 2 teaspoons of ground Super Sweet Blend. Super Sweet Blend works great in all your drinks too, but as with all our sweeteners… start with a small amount in a recipe. Taste, then only add more if necessary. 1 doonk of THM Pure Stevia Extract is roughly the same sweetness as 1 teaspoon THM Super Sweet Blend. You can mix and match these sweeteners, too. Try a teaspoon or two of Super Sweet Blend and if that is not sweet enough add a doonk of Stevia Extract Powder to make the sweetness go further. This will also enable your Super Sweet Blend to last longer.

The above sweeteners are what most people use, but Trim Healthy Mama also offers erythritol and xylitol for people who want to make their own blends, or who prefer to not use any stevia.

  • Erythritol. THM Erythritol is a delightful tasting sweetener that has zero impact on your blood sugar. Our purist-minded customers will love that the THM Erythritol does not contain any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), nor is GMO material used in its production.THM Erythritol is more like sugar, cup for cup. 1 cup of erythritol mixed with 1 teaspoon THM Pure Stevia Extract Powder allows you to make your own home made Sweet Blend or you can make any strength you prefer.
  • Xylitol. Xylitol is “Mr. Won’t Let You Down” when you’re really looking for that real sugar like sweet taste. Xylitol can come to the rescue for many Trim Healthy Mamas who are still learning their stevia ropes. Thankfully, it has very minimal impact on your blood sugar. This means you can use it in delicious desserts and it won’t be cruel to your waistline.  Do remember though that xylitol does have some calories to it. You’ll want to be careful not to overdo. We do not recommend using xylitol in drinks, especially the all-day sippers. (Please Note: As mentioned above – xylitol is dangerous to dogs. Please keep all xylitol sweetened treats away from your four-legged friends.)

Any tips for using stevia extract?

  • Don’t use too much at first!  Always start with the smallest amount, which really does go a long way. If you use too much it doesn’t simply get sweeter, it will taste more bitter. If it doesn’t taste sweet at all, add a touch more stevia. Taste again, repeat.
  • Add a little pinch of salt. This can help round the stevia flavor out, so it is more palatable. Mix and taste.  If it tastes “hollow”, add a touch more salt.
  • Don’t try stevia in chocolate recipes at first – try Gentle Sweet instead. While you are still trying to adjust to the taste of stevia, you will probably find it tastes better in drinks or fruity/berry flavored recipes. Try it in the Good Girl Moonshine recipe or in the Cottage Berry Whip (page 379) Add a doonk to your plain Greek yogurt and add some berries.
  • Try making the “Sweet Water” recipe, which takes more bitterness out of the stevia through fermentation. Add 1 teaspoon THM Pure Stevia extract powder to 1 quart pure water. Leave on the counter for 12-72 hours. Once this water reaches desirable sweetness (it will get sweeter the longer it sits) put it in the refrigerator and use for your recipes.

Could I be allergic to stevia?

Stevia is plant-based and as with any food, certain people can have an allergy to it. One symptom of a food allergy could be a dull, but persistent headache. However, don’t get confused with initial detox headaches (or flu-feelings) when you first start the plan. That sometimes occurs when sugar is taken out of the diet. If you are only getting headaches, directly after stevia use… you may have an issue with it.

Pull it out of your diet, for a few days, and see what happens. Or, it could be the brand that you’re using. Certain people have mentioned they will react to store-bought, plan-approved sweeteners like Truvia, but won’t get the same reaction from our non-gmo THM options.

You can try straight erythritol or some of the other on-plan alternatives, if stevia is a real problem for you.

Is the THM Stevia grown in China?

Yes, the THM Stevia is grown in China.  Serene’s husband Sam has made several trips to where the THM Stevia is grown, harvested, dried, then extracted. While many companies are hush-hush about where they get their stevia (which in the world of stevia is either from South America or China), we’re so excited and proud of our source!
There are many myths about the processing of stevia, mostly put out by scare tactic bloggers who have never been to the countries where this plant is grown and extracted! So much of the speculation about processing is hearsay, not fact.
We want to show you the beautiful organic farms, the gentle processing methods used, and some of the incredible landscape in this part of the country that has been dedicated to organic farming. We truly feel like God blessed us with the gift of being able to partner with organic farming communities who have been using the same growing methods for centuries without use of pesticides or other toxins.
People often get worried when they hear that a product comes from China. We felt the same way until we were able to send members from our own THM team to visit, not just once, but several times. They’ve been able to get to know the farmers and their families more and actually video taped the extraction from leaf to powder. Just like there are good and bad practices here in the United States, we’ve discovered that is the case in every country. This area of China is so far removed from city life and modern technology that when Sam told one of the women working in the fields (through an interpreter) that he was from America – she asked where that was!!!!
We feel incredibly blessed to have Stacy McGuire as part of our THM team. He was a missionary in China for many years and is fluent in the language. His connections with the Chinese people are strong and deep and he has been a God send in helping us make sure we truly are receiving the standard of purity in our products that we insist on.
Love from your THM sisters,
– Serene and Pearl

Can I grow my own stevia in the garden?

Sure! You can throw the whole leaves into your smoothies. Or, you can dry them and grind up the leaves – that will give you a basic, green leaf stevia powder. Most people find the green leaves and green powder to be too bitter, but if you don’t – enjoy!

Isn't stevia processed?

Honey and maple syrup have also gone through “processing”. Not all processing is harmful. Essential oils are processed, to some degree, as well as certain supplements. They still have many health benefits. You can look up articles on how to grow your own stevia and process it in your own kitchen. The end result is a powder. In these methods you’ll learn that generally the processing of stevia is similar to the processing of other extracts – like vanilla.

THM Pure Stevia Extract powder has been minimally processed even to the point of not being granulated (most other stevia extracts are granulated). No bleaching is used to obtain the white powder sweetness from the green leaf.

We have sent members of our THM team twice to the area where our stevia is harvested and processed. We have documented every step, to make sure we have only the highest purity in a product. All our stevia is organic – no pesticides are sprayed. The growing areas are rotated, so the minerals from the soil are not depleted.

Does stevia decrease fertility or cause miscarriages?

This topic is specifically addressed in our books – page 183 of Trim Healthy Mama and pages 112-115 of Trim Healthy Plan.  There is a study with rats, from the 1960’s, that noted a downward trend in fertility. However, the researcher heading it up summed up the likelihood of this affecting human fertility…

“Professor Kruc himself says that the only reason the rats in the study experienced fertility issues is because of the overdose of the stevia that they were given.”

For the same effect to be had in humans, a 120 pound human would have to consume upwards of seven pounds of stevia in a day.

The rats were fed extremely high doses of dried, green stevia from the entire plant, not just the leaves. It’s not unusual for stems and roots to contain higher amounts of toxic components that leaves do not (elderberry is a great example of this). Many studies have tried to replicate these findings, and have not been able to find a link between stevia and infertility.

Using the principles of THM, many women have reversed their insulin resistance and become pregnant without medical intervention for the first time. There is a baby boom!

For more information, read the short article “Does Stevia Cause Infertility?”

Having said this, everyone on-plan should feel comfortable with the sweetener they choose to use. If one wants to use a little honey, while pregnant, because they can’t shake fears or concerns – that’s fine. Pregnancy is not a time for stress or worry. We do advise, however that you not go overboard with honey or other natural sweeteners – for your own sake, and your baby’s health sake. As we will outline below, high blood sugar has been proven to raise the risks of both infertility and miscarriage.

We are extremely comfortable using stevia in our own homes, although our children use honey, as well as stevia. Serene loves stevia, as a sweetener. She has had three healthy THM pregnancies, using it as her chief sweetener. This is not to say she will never experience another miscarriage (God only knows that), but nothing has made her change her mind on it. We have talked to several doctors about it, along with Dr. Redash (OB/GYN). Dr. Redash helps head up the THM Research Institute. He sees no reason to tell women not to use stevia, but does see reason to warn women against sugary foods while pregnant.

As authors of Trim Healthy Mama, we have both suffered miscarriages – it is heart breaking and we would never wish that painful loss on any family. We have each had two miscarriages, but we had them before we ever began using stevia. We never blamed our diets (which were high in honey and maple syrup at the time) or blamed our miscarriages on any particular food at all.

We had no idea as to exactly why we experienced those losses, but due to our knowledge of the high incidence of miscarriage, we simply grieved the babies we would never hold and accepted it as one of the parts of life where you may never have an answer to the “why.”

An article entitled, “Miscarriage Statistics”, adapted from the book, “Hope is Like The Sun” states…

“Sources vary, but many estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; and some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.”

Solid evidence does back up certain reasons though, at other times – only God knows. Chromosomal Abnormalities – the sperm and the egg meet up, but cannot line up because one is faulty. This accounts for 60% of miscarriages with Immunologic Disorders coming in second.

While many women have wonderful full-term pregnancies, in their late thirties and forties, it is estimated that up to fifty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage in that age group. So, age plays a factor. So does a thin uterine lining, lack of progesterone, and a host of other reasons. Stevia usage is not on the radar in the scientific world of miscarriage and infertility.

One thing is for sure… while there is no evidence to back up this notion that stevia causes infertility or miscarriage – there are many studies pointing to high sugar as a reason for both miscarriage and infertility. While we would never say, “Sugar caused my miscarriage! Or, Sugar caused my friend’s or sister’s miscarriage,” it is good to know the facts.

This article, “Sugar May Contribute to Infertility”, refers to a study that reveals that women with insulin resistance (which results in high blood sugar) are 4-5 times more likely to have a miscarriage.

The American Diabetes Association says that high glucose levels can increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage anywhere from thirty to sixty percent.

According to Dr. Christine Lee, in an article entitled “Diabetes and Fertility”, high blood sugar also creates an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. She says…

“During the first few weeks of pregnancy, when a baby’s vital organs are just beginning to form, high blood glucose can cause damage to the embryonic cells.”

This blog post gets down to the nitty-gritty about the safety of stevia.

Can I use other sweeteners, besides the THM brand?

Yes, you could try “Just Like Sugar”. It is a product with chicory root as the primary sweetener. Chicory root is also known as inulin, but can cause stomach bloating and discomfort for some people.

Monk fruit extract (luo han guo) is another sweetener that could be tried. Just be sure that the “fillers” are on-plan and avoid any with sugar, dextrose, or molasses (like NECTRESSE™). Also note that it must be the extract and not the fruit itself, which would be too high in fructose.

Brand name products like Truvia, Zsweet, Pyure, and Swerve are also considered “on-plan”.  Again, just be sure to watch out for off-plan ingredients.  Pros: these brands have on-plan ingredients, negligible calories, and are gentle on blood sugar. Cons: if you are a purist, check to make sure any stevia blends, like those mentioned above, do not contain GMO’s. Also, with these sweeteners, you’ll have to use about double the amount (of what you’d use with THM Super Sweet Blend) to get the right amount of sweetness.

Xylitol – Pros: tastes great with chocolate recipes, if you cannot get used to stevia. It is gentle on blood sugar. Cons: toxic to dogs, 10 calories per teaspoon. (These calories can add up, so best not to use in your all-day sipper recipes, but fine for baking.) May cause digestive upset in some people.

Most liquid stevia drops are also on-plan.

Which sweeteners should I completely avoid?

First off, remember THM is forgiving. It is not a list of rigid rules that you must beat yourself up over if you fail to comply. But, there are many sweeteners that won’t do your body any favors and we do encourage you to avoid them in your daily life. It doesn’t matter if sugar is organic, non-gmo and comes packaged in a very earthy looking, expensive box – it still ignites your blood sugar and won’t do your health any favors. Best to avoid all forms of sugar, agave, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, fructose, dextrose, dates/date sugar, and nectar.

Artificial sweeteners to avoid (and certain sugar alcohols):

  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
  • Maltitol
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Saccharin (Sweet-n-Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

Can I use honey or coconut sugar on-plan?

There is no doubt that honey is a Biblical, medicinal food and does offer health benefits. But, it also has significant impact upon blood sugar. Raw honey, in small amounts (about 1 teaspoon daily), is on-plan even in weight loss stage. It can help with allergies and has many healing properties. If you are at goal weight, go ahead and include some honey – if you want, but don’t overdo.

Even the Bible mentions in Proverbs 25, “…a little honey is good, but too much makes a person sick”. The way most people use honey these days is in the form of… TOO MUCH! It doesn’t matter how naturally sweet it is. Honey can ignite blood sugar and that causes countless other health issues.

Growing children, who do not have weight issues, are far less insulin resistant than most of us adults. They can tolerate honey more easily. You can let your children have it in moderation if they do not have weight issues but they may also want to enjoy some of your stevia sweetened treats.

Coconut sugar has about the same effect on your blood sugar as raw honey does. It sits in the mid-thirties, on the glycemic index. Same guidelines apply to it. It is a natural sweetener that is more gentle on your blood stream than regular sugar, but it can be easily overdone and contribute to weight and high blood sugar issues. It also has significant calories.

Everyone needs to make the THM plan their own. While daily honey sweetening would go against the core weight loss principles of the plan, if you want to have a rare honey or coconut sugar sweetened treat, now and then, you can do it. That would be simply doing the plan your own way. Each mama needs to feel comfortable with her own approach to THM.

While many of us love our daily stevia sweetened desserts, we understand not everyone cares about constant treats. An infrequent treat made with these other natural sweeteners should not have to derail you from the plan… as long as you feel it does not induce another cycle of sugar addiction.

I read a blog article about how our bodies NEED sugar...is there truth to this?

Well, in a way the blogger is right! But the way the article is written is very deceiving.

On the THM plan, E meals offer our bodies the fuel of glucose – that is simply blood sugar. Yes, we need blood sugar, in healthy amounts. Constantly suppressing, by going too low-carb for too long, is a pit fall. But, you don’t need to eat sugar to get sugar in your blood. You don’t need to eat honey to fuel your body with sugar either. Both of those options spike blood sugar, when used in the manner that our modern society does.

The whole grains that we encourage – the fruit, the beans, the sweet potatoes – are much safer ways to get healthful amounts of sugar to fuel your body. And remember, we are setting up a carbs in – carbs out cycle with THM. You don’t shove sugar into your blood stream at every meal, especially with fat – that leads to weight gain. Weight gain leads to a host of health issues. We fuel with E meals. Then we let our body use that up before we fuel again.

All things in moderation. Sugar stuffed cells are a sure way to an inflamed, insulin resistant body.

Concerning Truvia, can I buy it in the big bag?

You can find Truvia at the grocery store, but you’ll only want to use the one that comes in a little tub or packets. Don’t get the bag that says “Baking Blend”, as it contains sugar.

I read a blog article "exposing" Truvia... is there truth to this?

There are many explosive blog posts that circle around on the internet warning people against Truvia. Many of these blogs have some falsehoods mixed in with some truths. Each person should do their own research and not be changed with the wind.

You can find horrific information about almost every food. There will be some new blog bomb every day about something. For instance, there are articles that say salt, in any form, is poison to the body. Then you can find articles that say we absolutely need the trace minerals in a good, quality sea salt.

Just because a food, supplement, or sweetener is “allowed” on-plan… it does not make it a requirement to use it. There are MANY items or products that may or may not pass your own personal preferences, tastes, or digestion.

Each person needs to weigh the possible risks. Carefully weed through the huge wealth of information (available to us on the internet) and decide what has enough truth and immediate threat to be concerned about and what risks are minimal. Also consider if those risks are less than being at an unhealthy weight and also what is realistically doable in your family and financial situation.

Stevia -vs- Honey

We think it’s time for an intervention with these two. All this quarrelling – this “nah.. nah… nah, nah nah, nah… I’m better than you” nonsense needs to be nipped in the bud. Okay… Stevia… you go sit over there – calm down! We know you’ve been called many names that don’t fit who you are but time to let it go… what? They’re cruel names? Yes, they’re cruel and they’re uncalled for but you can learn to forgive and move on.

Now, Honey…. Honey! Get back in this room, don’t you dare walk out in a huff! You do so have a place. Not needed? That’s ridiculous… God made you with a purpose, now sit down over there. No, not on the carpet, we’ll never get you out! Stay in your jar on that side of the counter. Okay… as far away from stevia as possible, huh? Well, we are going to hash this out and you two are going to come together and shake hands at the end of this… or else!

Maybe we’ve finally lost our marbles carrying on an actual conversation with honey and stevia, but something needs to be done about the cold war brewing between these two sweeteners. They both meet different needs, they both have health benefits, and they are both NATURAL. Have you pitched a tent on one side of the sweetener argument and there you are determined to stay? In this article, we’re going to let each side air their grievances and then give both a chance to take the stand and share who they really are. Hopefully, when we’re done…. we can all have an appreciation for the merits of both of these God-given sweeteners.

Let’s Clear the Air

Those look like real tears falling from stevia, so it looks like we need to address that hurt first. We’re going to shine some love on honey shortly too, but not until some issues on stevia’s side have been set right. She’s been called a “fake sweetener” – ouch that stings considering she is a beautiful green plant and her sweetness is only extracted – never altered.

Stevia extract powder is not “created” in a laboratory, like artificial sweeteners. She’s every bit as natural as honey, maple syrup or sugar itself. She’s been called overly processed, bleached, responsible for insulin spikes (despite the fact that she does not raise blood sugar). She’s often blamed for triggering “sweet taste addictions” that will never go away and cause people to overeat. What else? Oh yes, she’s been labeled an unbiblical sweetener. But here’s what hurts the most – she’s been blamed for infertility and miscarriage. All joking aside now – some of these are some pretty serious accusations. Let’s tackle them.

Drawn by Timothy Copeland (age 17)

Processed and Unnatural?

Much of this finger pointing at stevia comes from it being lumped in with the pink and purple packets of artificial sweeteners at your grocery store. Stevia is not sugar, which is perceived as “natural” – so what else could stevia be, but an artificial sweetener… a fake! This notion could not be more wrong. If you’ve heard the speculation that artificial sweeteners keep you fat by raising insulin levels – there may be some truth in that but don’t lump stevia in there. A Study published in the 2010 issue of Appetite comparing sugar, aspartame (an artificial sweetener) and stevia revealed that stevia reduced both blood sugar and insulin levels as compared to the other two sweeteners. This same study revealed that the stevia group did not over eat at subsequent meals.

Stevia is grown to maturity then the leaves are dried naturally. The sweetest parts of the leaf are extracted via water (which simply means they are soaked for periods of time). This water extract is then filtered with the use of food grade alcohol (in the case of THM stevia – every ingredient used – even this alcohol is organic). Those of you who have ever made a vanilla extract in your kitchen will know that this part of the process is exactly the same one used when extracting vanilla flavor from the vanilla bean.

But how does the leaf start out as green and the powder end up as white? Stevia extract is often unfairly bashed due to the presumption that it is bleached. While it is true that some stevia products are bleached at the end of processing, organic stevia farmers do not typically bleach the extract (THM stevia is never bleached). Since not all parts of the stevia plant are sweet and some are even bitter, extraction needs to occur for this sweetness to be isolated. The sweet taste of stevia comes from the glycosides inside the leaf. Glycosides are naturally a whitish color, they can be anything from a creamy hue to a stark white depending on the strain of plant.

Once the green part of the leaf (chlorophyll) is separated during the extraction process, the glycosides remain. But even though they’ve been separated from the other non-sweet parts of the plant, these glycosides are not chemically altered from their original state. The end result after they are dried is a white, fluffy powder. This powder is then usually granulated, making it easier to spoon out or pour through shaker holes. THM Pure Stevia Extract Powder is a little different from most other extracts in that it is not granulated. We chose to leave out this extra step because in our opinion it changes the flavor of the stevia – making it slightly more bitter (according to our taste buds) and we also wanted as few processing steps as possible from leaf to powder. True, it’s harder to shake out but that is why we “doonk”.

So yes… stevia undergoes some processes to get to the white powder state. This does not mean it has been debauched into something not recognized by the human body. It is surprising that many people caught up in the stevia vs honey cold war ditch stevia thinking it is too processed or not natural enough yet they embrace and ingest essential oils. Heads up – those oils don’t just drip naturally from the petal or leaf. They are extracted using similar processes in many cases as stevia undergoes. As we’ll soon learn, honey undergoes some processes too.

If you prefer to grow stevia leaves in your garden, dry them, soak them then follow further steps until you can pulverize the redried leaves into a green powder – go right ahead. This homemade stevia option is certainly fine for ultra-purists who prefer the whole leaf option rather than the extracted glycosides but there will be more bitterness in this powder. We used to think that while the green powder didn’t taste as good, surely it was the only type that contained all the many health benefits of stevia? Our thinking was that the white glycosides did not pose actual harm but they probably didn’t contain many health goodies either – sorta neutral health ground. We were wrong. A 2012 study published in volume 64 of Nutrition and Cancer showed that the extracted sweet part of stevia kills up to 71% of human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) after 72 hours of treatment invitro. Researchers also found that this stevia compound acts as an antioxidant for healthy cells and helps protect them from damage. It does the exact opposite to the breast cancer cells and floods them with toxic free radicals. This halts DNA replication and disrupts the cancer cells’ mitochondria, causing the cancer cells to die. The extract itself has also shown significant anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and blood sugar-stabilizing effects.

The Scary Stuff

Does stevia cause infertility and miscarriage? These are fair questions and they continue to arise as stevia gets more time in the spotlight. No use putting our heads in the sand and ignoring these questions just because we love having a natural sweetener that is calorie free and doesn’t raise blood sugar. If it’s dangerous, let’s logically find out. We could not encourage something that is damaging to fertility and health.

The whole controversy over stevia and fertility started when it was rumored that women in two indigenous tribes of South America women chewed on the herb as a contraceptive (or drank the tea – there are different claims). There is no data showing that this did in fact work for these women and many researchers point out that if stevia did have contraceptive properties, then the native population of Brazil and Paraguay would certainly be affected, which is simply not the case. Many researchers have been quick to make the argument that it is likely that if the contraceptive effect of stevia were real, scientists would have long ago discovered that fact and isolated the compounds responsible.

Drawn by Katie Myers (age 12)

It was this rumor which grew into folklore that triggered many hundreds of studies attempting to see if there is any real connection between stevia and fertility issues. In the 1960′s a study was published where rats were given extremely high doses of liquid stevia (in place of water) which caused a downward trend in their fertility. If you hear someone say, “Stevia causes infertility,” this is the study that entrenched that claim into people’s minds whether they know the details about that study or not.

Hundreds of subsequent studies with better methodology and larger numbers of test subjects have shown that stevia does not pose a risk to fertility, especially in the dosages of normal consumption. A recent study done at the Primate Research Center of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand once again studied the effects of extreme high doses of stevia on rodents but again revealed opposing results to the initial controversial 1968 study. The researchers not only looked at the rodents ingesting the high doses but on two subsequent generations. They found that health, mating and fertility were not affected at all, in any of the generations, even with a dosage of 2,500 mg/kg. The recommended daily dose for humans is 2 mg/kg. Another recent study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction (Vol. 12, 2008) concluded that stevia rebaudiana had no adverse effects on the fertility of adult female mice.

But… we’re talking rodents in those studies. What about human fertility? Professor Kruc, the Perdue University biochemist who headed up the initial rat/stevia study in 1968 summed up the likelihood of stevia affecting human fertility. He admitted that the reason the rats in the study experienced fertility issues was because of the overdose of the stevia they were given. For the same effect to be had in humans, a 120 lb. human would have to consume upwards of seven pounds of stevia a day. Also, these rats were fed extremely high doses of dried green stevia from the entire plant ground, not just the leaves. It’s not unusual for stems and roots to contain higher amounts of toxic components that leaves do not (elderberry is a great example of this).

In fact, the use of stevia and its positive influence on blood sugar (which can also be researched in hundreds of studies) has been touted to improve fertility in women with pcos. Once insulin levels decrease when sugars and starches are lowered in the diet, cycles normalize and fertility has a much better chance of returning.

Miscarriage – this is a heartbreaking topic. As authors of Trim Healthy Mama, we have both suffered miscarriages – we would never wish that painful loss on any family. We have each had two miscarriages but we had them before we ever began using stevia. We never blamed our diets which were high in honey and maple syrup at the time probably because those two are such common sweeteners.

We had no idea as to exactly why we experienced those losses but due to our knowledge of the high incidence of miscarriage, we grieved the babies we would never hold and eventually accepted it as one of the parts of life where you may never have an answer to the “why.” When dealing with the trauma of miscarriage sometimes we’re just desperate to have a reason – grief is blinding, feelings of loss are overwhelming and confusion is high. It’s human to grasp at anything different in our lives that may or may not have been a cause. Some women can have many full term pregnancies then suddenly their body will not carry a pregnancy – “WHY????!!!!” we scream. While there is no scientific evidence to put any blame on stevia for miscarriage, there are anecdotal reports of women who begin stevia use and then relate their miscarriage to that. The tribal folklore and the early rat studies that are often stated as factual keep the , “could it have been stevia?” question twirling around in women’s minds. It is the only difference they can think to point to in their lifestyle.

Sadly, the bottom line is – miscarriage is extremely common. An article entitled, “Miscarriage Statistics” adapted from the book, Hope is Like the Sun states, “Sources vary, but many estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; and some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.”

Solid evidence does back up certain reasons for miscarriage though, at other times – only God knows. Before stevia is blamed, one should look at known causes. Chromosomal Abnormalities – the sperm and the egg meet up but cannot line up because one is faulty accounts for 60% of miscarriages with Immunologic Disorders coming in second. While many women have wonderful full term pregnancies in their late thirties and forties, miscarriage risk increases 12% after age 30 and goes up 39% after age 35. One 2007 study published in An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology showed a 75% miscarriage increase for mothers aged 35–39 years and a five-fold increase where the mother was aged 40 and above (relative to mothers aged 25–29 years). So age plays a big factor.

Homocystene levels also greatly matter. Researchers in Bergen/Osb Norway studied several thousand patients and reported that Homocysteine levels higher than 10-10.7 increased a woman’s chance of a miscarriage by a more than 1/3. Vaginal infections are another culprit. A 2003 study carried out at Gynecological Sciences Perinatology and Puericulture Department of “Policlinico Umberto I” found these infections to be a big risk factor for miscarriage. The study found women with vaginal infections were 31.5% more likely to experience miscarriage than for mothers in the control group.

A too thin uterine lining, lack of progesterone, thyroid disorders…the list of actual known causes of miscarriage goes on and on. Stevia usage does not even register on the radar in the scientific world of miscarriage and infertility.

One thing is for sure, while solid evidence that stevia causes infertility or miscarriage is not to be found (even though multiples studies have attempted to do so), there are many reputable studies pointing to high blood sugar and insulin resistance as reasons for both miscarriage and infertility. We would never want to start saying, “Sugar caused my miscarriage! Or, “Too much honey caused my friend’s or sister’s miscarriage,” but it is good to know the facts. We have talked to several doctors about the miscarriage/stevia concern along with Dr. Redash (OB/GYN) who helps head up the THM Research Institute. He sees no reason to tell women in their reproductive years not to use stevia but does see reason to warn women against sugary foods while pregnant. If there is blame to place, let’s place it solidly where it is founded – on a high sugar/high starch modern lifestyle which causes disastrous metabolic and hormonal changes to the human body.

Drawn by Zakkary Schilievert (age 7)

The American Diabetes Association says that high glucose levels can increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage anywhere from thirty to sixty percent. These are not “maybe’s” – these are hard numbers. According to Dr. Christine Lee in an article entitled “Diabetes and Fertility,” high blood sugar also creates an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. She says, “During the first few weeks of pregnancy, when a baby’s vital organs are just beginning to form, high blood glucose can cause damage to the embryonic cells.”

There are too many studies to cite supporting the connection between miscarriage and high blood sugar and insulin issues but here are a few of interest: A 1998 study pulished in Cell Biochem Function found that plasma levels of glucose (blood sugar) were significantly higher in habitual miscarriage than in controls. A 2006 study in Akush Ginekol (Sofiia) showed that high Hb A1-c levels (average levels of blood sugar) in the first trimester of pregnancy had a primary role in the occurrence of early miscarriages. Women who are insulin resistant are 4-5 times more likely to have a miscarriage. A 2006 study cited in Akush Ginekol (Sofiia) showed that high Hb A1-c levels (average levels of blood sugar) in the first trimester of pregnancy had a primary role in the occurrence of early miscarriages.

Having laid all this out to help clear stevia’s name – pregnancy should not be a time for stress and worry. Everyone on plan should feel comfortable with the particular sweetener they choose to use. We want mamas to do their own research, not just to take our word for it. If one wants to use a little honey or another plan approved sweetener like xylitol, erthyritol or even chickory or monk fruit extracts while pregnant because they can’t shake fears or concerns about stevia, that’s fine. Coconut sugar is another natural sugar that may be fine in small amounts for pregnant mamas who don’t have serious insulin resistance. But caution – keep the amounts small – while coconut sugar is gentler on your glucose levels than sugar itself, it does have an impact. And in light of all the evidence concerning high blood sugar and risk of miscarriage and infertility we do advise that you not go overboard with honey or other natural higher glycemic sweeteners for your own and your baby’s health sake.

We are extremely comfortable using stevia in our own homes although our children use honey as well since they are growing and have higher metabolic needs than adults. Serene loves stevia as a sweetener and she has had two healthy pregnancies using it as her chief sweetener (although she uses a little raw honey as well). This is not to say she will never experience another miscarriage (God only knows that) but nothing has made her change her mind on it. So let’s move on and address some of honey’s grievances.

Ditched

Honey feels a bit scorned. She’s been ditched by many mamas for sweeteners that don’t raise blood sugar and this hurts since she’s been around since ancient times sweetening up people’s lives. There are many references to her in the Bible and rightly so since she is high in vitamins (especially high in much needed B vitamins) and rich in minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium. Teaming with enzymes, raw honey has some undeniable healing abilities. Nothing shines like honey as a holistic allergy medicine since it actually counters pollen allergens. It is antibacterial, antifungal which makes it an incredible wound healer. It promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestine and here’s a biggie – it helps counter high homocysteine levels to help maintain a healthy heart. Considering what we discovered earlier about homocysteine levels and miscarriage it seems this alone is a compelling argument to keep a little raw honey around to ingest regularly.

Drawn by Sarah Sikes (age 16)

Little – the Key Word

Proverbs 25:27 says, It is not good to eat much honey…”.  The problem in our culture is that when honey is used, it is usually in the “too much” vs the “little” category. Many whole food recipes that are supposed to be so natural and good for you call for anywhere from a half to a full cup of honey which is then paired with flours! This combination of high carbs upon high carbs is not kind to cells that are already too stuffed with blood sugar from our modern diet. All the health benefits of honey can be quickly overshadowed by its ability to raise blood sugar – especially when paired with other starches or fruits as it so often is.

Honey does not need to be ditched altogether (we’ll tell you how to use it wisely soon) but liberally using it as your chief sweetener can get your health and weight in trouble. This is why we expound upon some of its health benefits on page 187 of Trim Healthy Mama then say… “Did you know that honey can make you very fat?” This surprises many but a little shock factor is sometimes needed. Lots of people think subbing honey for sugar will magically turn their health and weight around simply because it is considered to be superior health wise over sugar. Short answer – nope.

The world we live in is vastly different to Biblical times when insulin resistance was unlikely. If there was a caution to not eat too much honey in Biblical times it seems more necessary to heed that warning these days than ever before. Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are a murdering epidemic and on the rise. A full fourth of the adult population in the U.S. is walking around with chronically high blood sugars that if diagnosed would be in the diabetic category. While pure forms of glucose like honey or sugars from dried fruits like dates were much needed in Biblical times due to their more physically demanding lives, the main need in our day and age is a stabilization of rollercoaster riding blood sugars! Our modern lives are so vastly different from ancient times. We ride in cars, they walked. We use a washing machine and turn on a tap for water. They beat clothes in the stream and had to haul water from a well. You get the picture. And cells that were not fed a lifetime of a too high glucose diet would have been much more insulin receptive, so a bit of honey here and there was much needed.

Find a Source for Raw Honey

It’s likely that the honey sitting in your cupboard has gone through some refining and processing. Unprocessed honey is the safest for your blood sugar and due to what it contains – has the most astounding health benefits of all forms of honey. The bits of bee pollen, propolis and honey comb in unprocessed honey boast amazing health power! Bee pollen has 96 known available nutrients and is 40% proteinwhich slows down the rise of blood sugar, the waxy comb itself is anti-inflammatory and also slows down the rise of blood sugar.

This most virgin kind of raw honey is optimal health wise but it crystallizes extremely quickly, so is not appealing to consumers. Therefore most of the honey available has been processed to prevent this crystallization. If your honey is raw and local to you – well done, you probably have a good source and it still retains many health benefits. But if your “raw” honey is not crystallized and full of little bits of pollen, propolis, honey comb (and even pieces of bees LOL) it has been through some processes. This is okay, remember, as we learned with stevia not all processing is “bad.” But, it is important to remember it is not in its original state where its effect on blood sugar is greatly tempered. Let’s not ditch honey in the dust but neither should we delude ourselves that honey comes to our cupboards in the same state in which it comes out of the hives.

Drawn by Isaiah D (age 10)

Grocery store honey – this is not something we recommend for adults on Trim Healthy Mama. While raw honey has a moderate glycemic index in the low thirties, pasteurized honey that is bought in most grocery stores is about the same as table sugar when it comes to spiking your blood sugar. It has a GI index in the high sixties or low seventies – depending on the brand. Since most adults have some form of insulin resistance – best to stay clear away. Growing, wiry children without any weight issues may be able to sweeten with this form of honey as it still offers a lot more vitamins and minerals than table sugar (we have some skinny children who use it) but anyone with weight or blood sugar issues would do best to avoid.

More than ¾ of the honey on grocery shelves is ultra-filtered. This is a high tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove all traces of pollen. This is very different from traditional filtration where only the “bits” we talked about earlier are removed. The reasons for ultra-filtration would require a whole other article but suffice it to say, we are not saying this processing of ultra-filtering itself is necessarily horrible. We’re just evening the playing fields and showing that most honey these days is much more than minimally processed. Testing has revealed that 75% of store bought honey is ultra-filtered and all traces of pollen have been removed.

Up until April this year (2014) a pure honey label did not mean that bottle is filled with pure honey. New guidelines are being finalized to crack down on this fraudulent practice. Many brands of honey have been cut with corn syrup. Companies bottling honey have not been required to list how much honey was in the bottles or how much corn syrup. A “pure” honey label just promised there was some pure honey inside. These new guidelines for labeling honey put forth by the FDA in April still do not necessarily mean the honey you have or are about to buy is all honey though. Until these regulations are finalized a lot of the honey sitting on the store shelves or in your cupboards have not been transferred over to the new guidelines. And even when the new laws go through – you’ll know if your honey is cut with corn syrup which is good but it will still be likely that it is ultra-filtered. It is thought that a good way to check to see if your honey actually is only pure honey and not cut with a filler is to put it in the freezer. Real honey’s freezing point is very low so it will not freeze and will remain runny.

How Can Both Honey and Stevia Work for Trim Healthy Mamas?

Look at the season of life you are in with a good dose of honesty. Choose which of these natural sweeteners should be your main one according to your needs and challenges. Are you currently in the weight loss part of your journey? Do you have blood sugar issues like insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or full blown diabetes? It doesn’t make sense for you to be sweetening with honey unless in small medicinal doses (1/2-1 tsp daily as a holistic health supplement). Stevia would be a much better choice for you at this time unless you have a real allergy to it and you need to choose another non glycemic, on plan sweetener. The exception to this would be for those who don’t have a sweet tooth and who rarely have desserts or sweet drinks. If you’re in weight loss mode but you’d rather just have the rare honey sweetened treat rather than frequently use stevia, that is a viable choice and it should not set you off track too much (but most of us THM’s love our daily sweet drinks and treats).

Are you now at goal weight? You may want to include a little more raw honey here and there. Don’t be afraid to put 1 Tbs. in your smoothies or shakes sometimes. But even though we are both at goal weight, we have not simply traded out stevia for honey. Most of our sweetness still comes from stevia but we enjoy more honey than we did in the earlier stages of our THM journey. If you are exercising a lot, running around burning up energy with a lot of responsibilities and feel like you can handle or even benefit from the glucose/fructose energy gift of honey, do so but always remember moderation. Overdoing even a natural sugar like this can take its toll once insulin levels spike – this is very inflammatory to the whole body and instigates disease. Serene likes to remind people that she used to be a skinny, raw honey and fruit gorger but her body was rampant with yeast because she overdid a good thing.

What if you (or more likely your husband) are a super high metabolism type and actually need to put on weight? In this instance it does not make sense to use stevia over honey. Try a little raw honey with every meal, always make sure to center these meals with protein and don’t’ forget to load the buttah on too for a good crossover effect!

Pregnancy is a time when women are more sensitive to sugar spikes from glycemic sweeteners and easily become more insulin resistant. Stevia can help meet those sweet tooth urges and go a long way to help prevent gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain. Again, if you’re pregnant do your own research and feel comfortable with your own choices.

What about children? As we mentioned, we have some super skinnies who need more honey and some others in different stages and with different metabolisms that need less. We often mix these two sweeteners in our children’s recipes. Our families call it “honey ‘n doonk” and it’s how our children roll. This not only saves our budget as honey is expensive but it lowers the overall glycemic index of their meal or treat. While children can handle and often need more glucose while they are growing, they too can easily overdo it. Our children love to “honey-n-doonk” their oatmeal or their smoothies many a morning on their own and the two sweeteners harmonize beautifully together in taste.

They’re finally hugging! Drawn by Josiah Russell (age 8)

Feel the Love

Some people have asked us how Trim Healthy Mama can be a Biblically-based book, yet encourage stevia over honey. As we’ve just pointed out, we do not promote it as better than honey, but more suitable as your major sweetener during a season of weight loss. We love both for different seasons and different reasons. Both are Biblical sweeteners, not just honey alone. God made the herb of the field and more than once the Scriptures describe leaves as God’s provision for healing. We’re not trying to say that these leaves are actual stevia leaves LOL!!, but our point is that God made herbs and put his provision of healing in them for us. God made bananas and potatoes, too. They, like honey are more suitable for different seasons of life – the growing years especially. No, they are not encouraged on the weight loss part of the plan (except for ½ a banana here and there), but remember for most of us – weight loss will be the smallest part of your THM journey.

Once you get to a healthy weight, you’ll learn to “Crossover” and include some of these higher glycemic foods, but in moderation – not in the way you used to use them. Yes, honey is a gift from God and the God who made honey; also wisely made stevia, with all its impact sweetness. We think it’s time they cross the aisles and make up!

 

Read More

Whey protein can be a fantastic supplement on-plan. It creams up your shakes and smoothies with its slimming powers. Just remember, Trim Healthy Mama is about balance. We don’t want you to sub protein powder at every meal for whole protein sources. Enjoy whey protein daily, if desired, but it should not be breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Gelatin and collagen are also excellent protein supplements.

"Protein Powder - Friend or Foe?" by Serene Allison

What is truth and what is scam when it comes to the popular
(and much fussed about) topic of protein supplements, especially whey protein?

Out of all the myriads of brands, the different processes involved, the slogans and promises made, how do we figure out the good from the bad? Are certain money hungry companies sweet talking us into products with a high price, but a low reward? Directly after Trim Healthy Mama came out we had a lot of questions directed to us about this subject. I knew we had to get to the very bottom of it, especially as it became obvious that one day we’d need to release our own Trim Healthy Mama brand of whey protein. We’d recommended lots of products, in the book, but to our dismay we had no control when companies changed ingredients (not always for the better) and changed the way they processed many of the foods, that we recommended on-plan. We had to come up with our own line of pure stevia and sweeteners and knew it would be the same with whey protein.  That day arrived and we now have the Pristine Whey Protein Powder.

Concerning this article, I buried myself deep into the research and I’ve tried to peel back the hype. Now that I’ve come up for air, I want to share my thoughts with you.

First, let’s tackle the subject of whether a protein powder is even necessary.

Can you do the Trim Healthy Mama plan without it? Absolutely – yes! If your budget, or dietary beliefs, prevent you from purchasing whey protein – don’t let that deter you from staying on-plan. Stick around! We know what it is like to struggle financially, to the point where there is literally no room left for supplements, after basic groceries. And, I know what it is like to wrestle with the idea of certain foods not fitting into your own peaceful paradigms. But, lately there is so much confusion on what is natural versus what is processed. It is important to logically decide whether the idea of a powdered supplement can fit into a “whole foods” lifestyle or not. We can all come to different conclusions and still be friends, but I’d like to share mine.

One can argue that we can get all our dietary protein needs from a hunk of real meat, a piece of fish, or a bowl of cultured dairy. True, wonderful whole food forms of protein, like these, are the basis of the Trim Healthy Mama plan and thankfully we get plenty of ’em! If isolated whey protein was the sole form of protein encouraged, we freely admit that would not be a balanced approach. But, we can also get our daily requirement of vitamin C from greens, peppers, and lemons, etc. To obtain our vitamin D, we can choose to sit outside on a sunny afternoon. No, we do not need supplements to fulfill these needs to survive, but in my mind – supplements can help us do something more. They can help us THRIVE.

If I have a bad cold, I will not only reach for a nice hot drink with fresh squeezed lemon, I will also take high doses of pure vitamin C in supplement form. During the winter, I am very diligent about taking a vitamin D3 supplement, as I do not see enough sun. Now I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers, but here goes – I know it might be more of a “Paleo” or “Primal” or “Traditional People Group” approach to sit on some Norwegian Sea-side and suck out the livers of stinky cod fish to get extra vitamin D, if I am lacking, but I’ll skip that – thanks. God has created us in His image, with intelligent design. Therefore, as children of God, we have an incredible capacity for creativity. Processing the cod fish, obtaining the isolated pure oil, and bottling it for concentration and ease for consumers is a smart move. Just sayin’… and just gettin’ feisty about it!

Extracting precious, essential oils via distillation to capture the healing essence of herbs and flowers is using our God-given ingenuity. In the book of Genesis, God told man to have dominion over the earth and the things on the earth. We should not go to the other extreme and rape the earth of its storehouses of abundance or disrespect the balance God has set up in nature, but being wisely creative with the raw materials He has given us is “natural”.

Grok (the Paleo caveman diet hero), is no relation to me. I enjoy many healthy foods and supplements advanced from intelligent science. I am not blind to the fact that there are money-hungry and morally starved companies (and industries) that do not care for consumer health or for preserving the integrity of the foundational ingredients used. Yes, there are fan-dangled products available today that do cause toxic chemical abuse to our bodies. But, just because some music, art,or literature can be marred with dark and evil undertones does not mean that we say all music is out! Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

I say all this to lead back to the question about necessity of whey protein supplementation. No, it doesn’t come out of a cow like that. But, neither does wine pour straight out of a grape or butter just appear from the Jersey’s udder. How about sea salt? You wouldn’t like to drown your nice steak with a cup of ocean water to give it a good salty flavor, would you?

Many natural foods, and even ancient foods, described in the Bible – like simple salt, need to be harvested. Even ancient, artisan staples like sprouted breads and aged cheeses have to undergo procedures. A roasted coffee bean that was once upon a time a little red berry or the steeping and fermenting of tea are nutrient releasing steps. Manufacturing processes are not all degenerative. Some help release the treasure locked inside the food like certain precious gems that are trapped inside the rock. The cashew nut is found inside of a poisonous pod atop an inedible fruit.

So, yes, whey protein powder has undergone a process. But, in my mind, that is okay as long as it is a process with integrity – one that maintains as much nutrition as possible. No, you don’t need whey protein to survive, but it can be a helping hand on your health journey and a great tool for allowing you to become or stay trim. It’s not the cake, but it is the icing. And, the icing just kicks everything up a notch. I will take my slice with the icing on!

The Slimming Effect:

The metabolic pathway for the digestion of protein releases a hormone in your body called glucagon. This hormone is a fat stripper. It literally signals your body to break down your adipose fat tissue. This is why whey protein has been touted as a slimming aid. It amps up glucagon in your body.

Protein also slows the absorption of sugar from the blood stream. As you know, this is also a weight loss plus and a large focus of our Trim Healthy Plan. The body actually burns more calories when digesting protein rich foods and your thermogenic temperature rises in the process. Put simply, that just means your metabolism fires up.

Well, I’ll just eat some meat!

Yes, this can all happen by eating a protein rich hunk of meat (and you get to eat plenty of meat on our plan), but hunks of meat are not always a quick and easy option. Chugging a superfood smoothie enriched with whey protein is far easier during a “busy to do list day”. Whey protein can also be a lighter calorie option for a protein rich snack or dessert. We should not be afraid of calories, but we don’t want to make every meal calorie heavy. We need those all-important caloric change ups and whey protein can help us do that. Whey also contains special goodies for your body that meat alone does not contain.

Goodies Galore:

Aside from its weight loss merits, whey has many talents that can boost your health and strength. It supports muscle growth and recovery, immune function, energy levels, digestive health, mood, and appetite reduction.

Whey protein is among nature’s richest sources of growth-promoting Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), such as lucine. It also contains important sulfur-containing amino acids that are needed for tissue repair and recovery. Beta-lactoglobulin, in whey, increases our absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue. Why is that so important? Because, after the age of 20, without adequate protein intake and strength building exercise, the average person will lose a half a pound of muscle mass per year. That significantly adds up over time and contributes to insulin resistance, which leads to the common “middle-aged spread”.

Whey protein also spares glycogen stores (the energy of your muscles), during exercise, due to its high levels of Branch Chain Amino Acids. These amino acids are essential in that they must be obtained from the body, and are the ones needed by the body, during exercise – to produce energy. Low levels of these amino acids cause fatigue. Supplementing with whey is therefore a wonderful way to pep up!

Incredible Alpha-lactalbumin!

Whey is very rich in Alpha-lactalbumin. This wonderful protein comprises over 30% of the protein fraction in human breast milk – making it the most important protein fraction for a newborn baby. Alpha- lactalbumin has the highest bio-availability and has the greatest efficiency of any other protein fraction. Studies on Alpha-lactalbumin indicate that it is one of the most effective forms of nutrition that fits the requirements for overall growth and development. It is absorbed easily by the body and provides an anabolic environment for strength and muscle growth.

Alpha-lactalbumin is nature’s highest source of an essential, and often missing amino acid, called Tryptophan. Tryptophan is needed for the manufacture of our brain chemical, serotonin. Proper serotonin levels help keep our appetites in check, regulate our sleep patterns, and improve our mood – especially under stress. Serotonin is known as the happy hormone. Who doesn’t need more of that?

Have you heard of glutathione? It is our body’s most effective immune builder and antioxidant. It is in this power-packed Alpha-lactalbumin that we find the treasure cysteine, which is the direct precursor to glutathione. So, when looking for a whey protein supplement, we must be diligent about searching for one that contains the highest levels of un- denatured Alpha-lactalbumin – to help support our immune systems.

Protein Peptides Control Hunger:

There are still plenty more goodies in whey and we must mention the low molecular weight protein peptides Glycomacropeptides or GMP’s. These wonderful, little peptides stimulate a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) that can control our hunger responses. CCK signals to the brain a sense of satiety. A rise in this hormone is always followed by a large reduction of food intake. And, thankfully whey allows that to happen! Whey protein GMPs are shown to elevate CCK production in human studies by 415%, within only 20 minutes post ingestion. Awesome!

Lactoferrin – For Your Gut and to Prevent Disease:

Also in whey’s list of talents is a very small protein called lactoferrin, which has the ability to bind strongly with iron. This is important because free-flowing iron, in the body, causes microbial growth and excess free-radicals. Excess free-radicals lead to disease. Lactoferrin is an excellent anti-microbial scavenging agent. It also inhibits bacteria from attaching from the gut wall, as well as showing ant-viral behavior

Lactoperoxidase is another protein fraction in whey that shows powerful microbial action, but in a different way than lactoferrin. It destroys a wide range of microorganisms and viruses by stimulating a series of enzymatic reactions.

A properly prepared whey protein will also provide a balanced source of the electrolytes calcium, phosphorus, and sodium that will support bone maintenance.

Forms of Whey Protein – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

Not all the powders available provide our body with those health goodies we just discussed. There is rampant confusion over which types of protein powders are best for our health. Some people end up buying the most expensive options, hoping they will be more pure and less processed. That can be a costly trap.

There is a lot of hype pushed on the consumer, from all the different companies, peddling their brands. So, what am I doing here? LOL! Well, I wrote most of this article before we ever decided to launch our own brand of whey protein powder and posted it up on Facebook in pieces. I’m just shining this article up for you now – I was just as passionate then about uncovering the truth as I am now.

Don’t Buy Concentrates (WPC’s):

I think it’s best to start with what to avoid in a whey protein powder. WPC stands for Whey Protein Concentrate. It will state that on the container. These are the protein powders that are cheapest to make. In recent years, they have flooded the market place. Sadly, most of them have been processed using excessive heat. This damages the delicate protein fractions by irreversibly unfolding the amino acid chains and configurations and making them much less biologically active and even harmful.

WPC’s have less protein, per serving, and contain some fat and lactose (milk sugar). Healthy fat is awesome, but not the fat present in this lowest grade of all whey protein supplements. The drying process is usually a harsh process and oxidizes the cholesterol and fat that are still present. Oxidized cholesterol is dangerous to your health. Since lactose is not filtered out either, this sugar (when harshly heated) is not healthy. It is also problematic for people who are lactose intolerant.

These inferior whey products are usually referred to as WPC 80%. This powder is the stuff that is pumped into the chemically sweetened energy bars and cheap tubs of powder you would find at your local grocery store. Make sure to read your labels! If your brand is using a concentrate it is probably so the company can make a cheaper product and a bigger buck for their pocket.

Superior WPC’s?

There are very health conscious companies who use concentrates – simply because they want to use the least amount of processing possible for a more bio-active protein. They use the lowest amount of pasteurization, required by law, and use careful drying measures. Some of these companies make their protein powder from milk instead of the whey already pasteurized from cheese making. This means they get to say they only use one process instead of two.

My problem with these brands is that legally there is not one whey protein powder allowed to be sold in America that has not been pasteurized. By law, all commercially sold dairy products must be pasteurized (except by personal hand-to-hand sales, in some states). All whey protein powders have to be either pasteurized using the vat method (145 degrees for 30 minutes) or by the high-temperature short-time method (HTST) (161 degrees for 15 seconds). So, all of these far more expensive and ultra “goody-goody, never put a drop of anything slightly processed into your body… or you’ll die a slow and painful death” companies, selling high cost WPC’s, are promoting a lie. No matter what special wording they use (to convince themselves, or you, about their product being raw and unaltered), the fact remains it has been heated! IN THE USA, no protein powders are raw! End of story.

Some use the term “flash pasteurized”, for the 15 second method, to make it sound better. Others who adopt the lower (not by that much), but much longer method, use terms like “cold processed” or “special low temperature unique pasteurization methods” to try and make you think that their company is doing something a cut above the rest. The only “cold” process I see here is in the cold hard truth that their proprietary process is just one of the normal and ordered legal options of our government. You can do a google search and pull up oodles of protein powders claiming they are raw. Nope! Do we call milk that we buy at the store raw? No, because it is not. It is pasteurized and has undergone either the slow or fast methods that all whey powders have undergone. Look up on the internet how to pasteurize your own milk at home. You’ll be offered the two standard methods on your cook stove –either slow at 145 degrees or fast at 161 degrees. Why are companies trying to pretend these old, standard pasteurization methods are new, special ways to keep whey raw? It’s baloney!

Don’t Fall For Scams!

Whey protein is very fragile and no matter which methods are used there will be an altering of the protein molecules to a very similar extent. Thirty minutes does sound like a long time compared to the faster, higher version of 15 seconds (after which it is immediately cooled to stop the pasteurization process). But, this can be likened to whether I sauté my eggs at medium heat for only a couple of minutes or gently poach them, for a much longer time, in a pan of boiling water that has been removed from its heat source. Either way, I will eventually get firm, opaque egg whites or I wouldn’t want to eat them.

What upsets me is that these companies do have knowledge of basic science, but this is overpowered by their knowledge of how to make a golden profit. Instead of telling the truth, and selling their product for what it is worth, they sell it for exorbitant prices under false disguises. Let me lay down the facts… there is no whey protein powder, or other source protein powder, sold on the American market that has never been subject to the heat I have described. Many months of research have assured me of this.

You can’t tell I’m steamed about this can you? Well, charging $50-$80 for a tub of protein powder, through misleading statements, is daylight robbery – even if the cows were grass-fed! The fat and milk sugar is still in there. It is definitely heated to the point of pasteurization, even if not as harshly as the cheapo brands. Later in this article, I’ll share why oxidized fats, in powder form, are different in your body than cooking a steak and eating it.

A Better Whey:

Do not despair for your lost dream of an effective protein whey supplement. The biological effectiveness of whey, in a carefully processed concentrate (or preferably in the form I am yet to share with you), is still very positive – even under human testing and research data. The microfractions still greatly benefit the body in an anabolic, immune-boosting and weight-reducing way.

Is there another viable option? Yes, Ma’am! Beyond concentrates is the next level of purification – a whey protein in an isolate form, or (WPI). The isolation process will remove the fat, cholesterol, and lactose. It leaves a product that is a more potent form of whey protein. It also removes the bloating and indigestion problem that comes with concentrates that still contain their lactose and newly formed oxidized fats. We’ll also talk about the myth that proteins must be paired with fats, as you read further.

Look For CFM:

Cross-flow micro-filtered (CFM) whey protein isolate is the most undenatured form of whey available on the market, since the denatured particles are actually removed. CFM whey’s native protein structures remain intact, to a large degree, by a cold- processed isolation method using ceramic micro-filters. It costs a lot more for companies to purchase this form of whey than the cheapo isolates, but whey protein selection is when quality really counts.

During this microfiltration process, undesired particles like lactose, cholesterol, and any de-natured fractions are successfully removed. Micro-filtered whey isolate is the protein with the highest biological value of all proteins. It retains high percentages of immunogloblins and minerals and is higher in calcium than other whey protein supplements. If anywhere on your supplement you see CFMr, you hold in your hand the real deal. I was ecstatic when we as a Trim Healthy Mama company were able to source a very pure and wonderful tasting CFM isolate form of whey to pass along to you. Just being transparent here, the whey protein we are providing gives our company the smallest profit of any of our items launched, but we believe in purity and affordability so we have done our best to keep this pristine product as budget friendly as possible. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Beware of Hydrolyzed:

If you ever come across the term “hydrolyzed” when it comes to whey protein – it is best left on the shelf. Hydrolyzed whey is processed using high heat and very acidic conditions. Hydrolyzing whey creates smaller peptides or bonds that link the amino acids. This is done to make an already naturally quick, absorbable protein even quicker to absorb. Many sports nutritionists and dietitians believe that this idea may backfire on our health. They question the wisdom of creating a protein that absorbs faster than your body can healthfully process.

Hydrolyzing also denatures most of whey’s protein molecules and reduces the effectiveness of the protein. This kind of whey processing makes an extremely bitter product. Yet, for all its downsides, it is still one of the most expensive whey forms on the market.

Can You Over-Do Protein?

Another question that comes up – won’t I become overly acidic, and ruin my kidney’s with too much protein?

The rise of the popular low-fat /vegetarian diet era in the 1980’s and 90’s informed us that high amounts of dietary protein (especially animal based protein) is dangerous to our kidneys.

Modern research proves this wrong. Protein does not damage healthy kidneys, even when consumed in amounts higher than what would be considered normal. It is only people with certain kidney diseases, and those with compromised renal function, that cannot handle a lot of protein. This is due to their kidneys not functioning properly, not due to the protein itself. Healthy kidneys filter out the waste products of protein metabolism just like they do slews of other things. It’s what our kidneys were created to do.

Saying that protein is bad for your kidneys is like saying eggs, peanuts, or bread made with healthy, sprouted-grain are bad for every healthy individual. Just those allergic to those foods may have severe reactions to them – not everyone.

How Much Is Too Much?

A recent study revealed that when body builders consumed up to 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight, kidney function was not impaired. (Poortmans and Dellalieux, 2000). Dr. Clay Hyght, a chiropractor and health and fitness expert, backs this up with his personal experience. He is a big guy, who works out hard, with lots of muscle. He lives on a diet where he consumes 375 grams of protein a day – an enormous amount! In a transcribed radio interview, he talks about how his kidneys are in perfect condition after many years of eating this way.

In an older study, conducted with female rats, kidney function actually seemed to be improved with a high protein diet. (Sterck et al. 1992). Other studies showed protein intakes, even up to 1.27 grams per pound of body weight, did not cause kidney damage.

Let’s say you are 150 pounds. While our Trim Healthy Mama plan is protein-centered, eating the protein rich meals and snacks we advise will not generally bring your daily protein intake to even 150 grams.  This would only be one gram per pound of body weight. Some days, it’s possible you might eat that much protein, but there won’t be harm in it. Shake off your worries about this! I consumed whey protein almost daily, in my last two pregnancies, and these were my healthiest pregnancies ever. Some rat studies have revealed that when rats were given a full 80% protein diet, for long periods of time, none of the rats showed any signs of kidney damage (Zaragoza et al. 1987).

The Builder:

I like the way Dr. Clay Hyght explains protein in one simple sentence. He says, “Protein builds stuff!” It doesn’t just build muscles. It builds hair, skin, nails, tendons, ligaments, blood plasma, organ tissue, and almost 2000 enzymes. Higher protein diets also revealed higher bone mineral content, instead of depletion. (Cooper et al. 1996, Freudenheim et al. 1986).

Together, resistant exercise (like we advise) and ample protein intake, lead to even better increased bone mass. This is so important for us mamas, especially as we get older. Our Trim Healthy plan includes ample protein, not these huge amounts many body builders consume, but enough for many of our mamas to say things like: “My nails are finally growing!”, “My skin is smoothing out!”, or “I have less cellulite on my thighs!”

Studies That Promoted the Scare:

A few original studies, that contributed to the scare about high protein consumption, demonstrated that when dietary protein was raised to 140-225 grams, per day, excess calcium was lost through the urine at a faster rate than normal (Hegsted et al. 1991). This seems like an opposite result than the other research I am citing here. However, in these studies, calcium and phosphorus intake was strictly restricted and not allowed to increase in proportion to the level of protein that was taken in.

Dietary, whole food proteins contain calcium and phosphorus. Protein supplements, that are lacking these minerals, are now usually fortified to correct this imbalance. Thankfully, our CFM whey protein isolate is NATURALLY high in calcium and contains a good amount of phosphorus, so there is no issue for concern.

In a natural scenario of high protein intake, without calcium and phosphorus restrictions, there is actually a positive calcium balance and there are no adverse effects on bone calcium content (Hegsted et al. 1991, Zigler and Filer, Jr 1996 National Academy of Sciences National Research Council 1991).

Of course, I’ m not recommending a diet imbalanced with any macronutrient. We certainly don’t have to consume upwards of 200 grams of protein per day! But, I do want to alleviate the erroneous fears fed to us by health gurus that spout vegetarian “cleaner colons through less animal protein” dogma. Eating plans, like ours, that lean heavily on protein foods also have a strong metabolism-boosting effect, due to the thermic influence of protein and its ability to prevent hunger. Protein-based metabolic increase is double that of carbs or fat! But, thankfully, you also get to eat carbs and lots of fat as a Trim Healthy Mama. We are not about leaving anything out!

Is a Lot of Protein Acid-Forming?

Yes, there are some protein foods that naturally leave an acidic ash in the digestive system, but that is a good thing! It is a part of keeping your body in a perfect PH balance. Being too alkaline is not healthy either. Why? Because God made them for us and called them “good”. Easy answer.

And we Trim Healthy Mamas do not need to worry about being too acidic, even if there was a reason for it. Our diet is rich in glucomannan – konjac root meals and snacks. The konjac root is known as the second most alkaline food on earth. Our diet is also filled with lots of leafy greens and non-starchy veggies, which are extremely alkaline. Perfect balance!

But, Wait… There’s Soy!

Some have written in to us concerned with the addition of soy lecithin in many whey protein powders. And, yes, currently it is in the Trim Healthy Mama Pristine Protein Powder. While I am the purist in the Serene and Pearl duo, and I do not believe in consuming soy as a food or a supplement, I don’t stress out over <1% wt soy lecithin in whey protein powder. It is so minimal. It is not required that it be listed as an ingredient. We are currently working with our whey protein source to provide us with a sunflower lecithin alternative. We will keep pushing, until we make this change, but I believe my health is not adversely affected, in the meantime.

Lecithin itself is a healthy supplement. Studies have shown that lecithin helps in the breakdown of cholesterol, to smaller particles, so they are less likely to build up in vein and arterial walls. It is also thought to prevent a fatty liver. It is rich in choline, which helps metabolize fats. It has been seen to be effective for weight loss, as it helps the body burn fats as a source of energy. But, it is unlikely you will receive many of lecithin’s benefits when consuming the infinitesimal amounts that are used in whey protein powders. We are talking micrograms for amounts. The lecithin, in protein powder, is used to help the powder mix more easily with liquids. It is also used to help facilitate uptake of amino acids, into muscle cells.

Soy has been reported to be a harmful and hormone-disrupting food, specifically soy protein. During the making of lecithin, from soy, almost all the soy protein is removed. Lecithin is actually extracted from soy oil. It would be almost impossible for soy to have an estrogenic effect from the amounts of soy lecithin in protein powder.

I enjoy my food purism. It’s the way I am wired, but I believe in doing all that we can for our health – without making a weird religion out of it. This is when it becomes an idol in our lives and we cannot even live happily in the times God has created us to live in. We need to make wise choices, but we do not need to obsess. I’ve had many years learning that lesson – the hard way. Making wise choices for our health can sometimes mean to give up the constant nit-picking and relaaaaaaaax.

I am only ranting on about this because I have too often fallen into this over-controlling pit of taking complete responsibility for the health of my family. Yes, we have to make choices that foster life and not destruction, but we are never in full control over our health. The buck stops with God. So, yes, I choose to eat organic or grass-fed when I can (sometimes I can’t). I choose to exercise and not forsake healthy sleep patterns, but I am not going to get stuck and distracted from the bigger picture by picking at the little nits all day. I do what I can. And, what I can’t control… I no longer stress over.

So, my advice in short – don’t go and cook with soybean oil or eat soy laden foods, but a bit of soy lecithin (in tinsy..insy…winsy…amounts), I don’t think it effects the big picture. After years of torturing myself with obsessing over small issues, I have realized the best thing for health and sanity is to take a nice, deep breath and give over every obsession to God. Having said all this, if you have an actual allergy to all forms of soy…even soy lecithin, by all means – you can try to seek out a protein powder that uses a sunflower-based lecithin. I have said a lot in one article, devoted to whey protein; however I felt the necessity to go down some “purist” trails that I am too familiar with. Hopefully, it will guide some kindred spirits to a happier and ultimately healthier road.

Love,

Serene


Sources:

  • Portmans and Dellalieux, 2000
  • Sterck et al. 1992
  • Zaragoza et al. 1987
  • Cooper et al. 1996, Freudenheim et al. 1986
  • Hegsted et al. 1991
  • Hegsted et al. 1991, Zigler and Filer, Jr 1996 (National Academy of Sciences National Research   Council 1991).
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